I never planned on getting on the Elf of the Shelf bandwagon. It seemed too cutesy for me and honestly, that wide-eyed elf face creeps me the eff out. But one day a few weeks ago the kids were fighting over what to watch on TV. David was watching Spongebob and Benny kept turning off the TV. David would get up and scream at Ben for turning it off. Then Ben turned the TV off again and laughed. Then David did his high-pitched whiny thing he does when he is really frustrated and and screamed “Benny stop it!” before turning the TV on again. Periodically, I would yell from the kitchen, where I was trying to prepare the 300th meal of the day, to stop touching the TV. I think i even said something like the button would wear out from being pushed so much and that I wouldn’t buy a new TV if they broke it. They didn’t care and after this loop of annoyance was repeated over and over, I lost it.
“That’s it!” I yelled, stomping my way to the living room. “I am sick of you guys not listening to me. I called Santa and he is sending an elf to watch you and tell him if you are being bad!” Because nothing says Christmas like threatening your children with a permanent spot on the naughty list.
“Santa is sending us an elf?”David said, his eyes lit with glee. “Can I see the elf? When is he coming?” I hadn’t anticipated his excitement since I didn’t exactly frame this elf thing in a positive light, but David was excited. Benny just looked at me and then hucked a train across the room.
So the elf came and we read the book and picked a name (Harry) and set him on the shelf. And it worked like magic. Every time the kids started to fight over a toy, I would see David look up at the shelf, and then hand his brother whatever piece of plastic they were about to come to blows over. Throughout the next few days, David chattered happily about all the good things Harry was going to tell Santa. Everything was going according to plan, except for one thing–I didn’t realize how much involvement this stinking elf would require of me. I’m supposed to move this stone faced little freak all over my house each night. But I can’t just stick him on the couch and be done with it, it’s supposed to be getting into mischief. Now I barely have enough room in my brain to remember to feed the dog twice (okay once, but it’s a super big bowl) a day, how am I supposed to come up with 24 fun and original scenes of elfin adventures?
On day three, David woke up and ran into the living room. His face fell as he looked at the shelf and at Harry sitting exactly as he was the day before. “Hey, Harry didn’t move!”David yelled. “I thought he was magic.” Leave it to me to introduce a heartwarming and cherished Christmas tradition just to crush it three days in. In my defense, I fall asleep putting my kids to bed most nights. It’s not like I should be expected to stay awake past 8:30pm just to move a stupid elf around the house.
Thinking quickly, and having enough introspection to know that Harry would be sitting on that shelf for many more mornings to come, I said, “David! Can you believe it? Santa sent us a lazy elf! Harry is so lazy he doesn’t even move.” David looked at me and the rumpled his eyebrows.
“Mom, our elf is so lazy! Santa is going to be so mad at you Harry!” David said, pointing at the wrongly accused elf. I couldn’t help smiling to myself and thinking how lucky David is to have such a smart mom. Now David is happy when Harry is found in a different spot in the house (I did manage to hid him in the pile of laundry on the couch and in a bag of pretzels) or if he is still on the shelf. So the moral of the story is to know yourself, your limitations and abilities, and have a clever excuse at the ready to explain away any of your shortcomings.
Are you an Elf on the Shelf over-achiever or slacker?