Every year around this time my Pinterest feed is filled with photos of America’s favorite elf, Elf on the Shelf, in clever poses of all types imaginable. Lists of “THE BEST ELF ON THE SHELF IDEAS EVER!!!!” circulate freely, and parents everywhere (moms especially), attempt to outdo one another with their family elves’ nightly shenanigans.
I’m not knocking these people. I admire them. I wanted to be one of them. In fact, two years ago I bought an Elf on the Shelf for my family (along with a cute little skirt so that we could have an elfette), with grand plans of making her a cherished part of our Christmas tradition. She would keep my kids in line with her omniscience and entertain them with her tricks and ability to move freely throughout the house (under the cover of darkness, of course).
But then what really happened is that our elfette (whom my daughter named “Mine”), was placed upon a shelf in our kitchen and was never moved until Christmas was a distant memory. She just sat there, doing nothing more than creepily staring at us as we ate our meals each day.
I really should have known this would be the outcome. I mean, let’s be real – by 8:00 pm each night I am practically comatose on the couch. There is not one ounce of me that can process anything deeper than a good episode of Real Housewives, so having to move “Mine” around and be funny about it at the same time was just asking too much.
This year I decided to abandon “Mine” and leave her in her little collector edition box, never to see the light of day. I figured my kids were too young to remember her, our very own food police (always watching, always judging), so the time was now to ditch this tradition.
I was feeling good about it because my threats of “Santa’s watching!” and “Do you want any presents under the tree, young lady?” were effective for some time in curbing undesirable behavior from my three year old. (The 20 month old just laughs at me and then gives me this “Don’t you just want to gobble me up, mommy?” grin.) I didn’t need some plastic elf to get good behavior!
But then, on Tuesday evening at about 4:33 pm, the you-know-what hit the fan. It was as if all evil forces of childhood meltdowns converged in my kitchen in a single moment. My three year old decided that she NEEDED to practice writing her letters (which means that she NEEDED the candy I bribe her with to practice her letters), and my 20 month old decided that the Goldfish crackers I’d provided for snack were not up to snuff. Suddenly every shriek and wail imaginable were assaulting my eardrums, all while a steady shower of Goldfish crackers rained down upon me and the floor.
I could not believe these little demons had taken the place of my children.
Even worse, the “Santa’s watching!!!” threats were not working. At that moment, I wished that “Mine” was there to oversee this meltdown and bring order to our universe once more. What had I done?
Luckily, me being the calm, patient and clearheaded woman that I am, I grabbed my iPhone and started videotaping the ridiculous scene that was taking place in my kitchen. My intention was to send this video to my husband so that he could get a glimpse of what I deal with at home (extra presents under the tree for me?). But during filming, I screamed loudly nicely said to my children that I was sending this video to Santa so that he could see for himself how badly they were behaving.
Probably a bad call, but really, it was the BEST THING EVER. No joke – the three year old’s antics stopped immediately. And because she finally chilled out, so did the 20 month old.
For the rest of the day, my daughter kept asking me “Do you think Santa likes my attitude now?” And “Do you think Santa forgives me for being crabby this afternoon?” And “Does Santa know I woke up early today so I was crabby and asking for candy?” She even tried to feed her brother his Goldfish crackers (yep – collected off the floor), because “he needed to eat his snack so he can get big and strong.”
The rest of the week has been smooth sailing, too. I’m pretty much feeling like the best, worst mom ever.
So, just remember this. It’s not too late to abandon Elf on the Shelf in your home. All you have to do is trick one of your children into touching him or her because then he or she has to go back to the North Pole early, right? (That’s how I remember the story at least). Then grab your iPhone and hit “record” when necessary.
In the North Pole, just as in a court of law, direct evidence trumps hearsay mumbo jumbo every time.