I find myself having a "love-hate" relationship with our Elf on the Shelf. Half of me is pissed because I had one of these elves when I was a kid and it didn't come in a pretty box with a storybook and he never reported to Santa on whether or not I was being good. He just hung from the light fixture over our kitchen table. We actually had two and they were by far my most favorite Christmas decoration of my childhood. I just wish my mom had been a little more creative and, at the very least, told us the elves were watching us at dinner to see if we ate our vegetables. But I guess that is expecting a little much since I only believed in Santa until I was four.
I can forgive the fact that my brother blurted out "There's no such thing as Santa, stupid," while we were shopping in Jewel when I asked my mom "how many more days 'til Santa?" I can forgive the fact that I am not making millions off of the marketing juggernaut that is "Elf on a Shelf” all because I can use this little guy to my full advantage for the duration of the Holiday Season.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the concept, you get this Elf in a box along with a book that in a nutshell says you are supposed to name this elf and he will watch over everything your kid(s) do and each night report back to Santa if they have been good or bad and then reappear the next morning. Part of the fun is hiding the elf in various spots in the house and having the kids find him. We only started that part of the tradition this week.
We named our elf "Bubble Pop." So, since December 2, I have been threatening my daughter with Bubble Pop and it has worked out pretty well, most of the time. All those issues I've mentioned in previous blogs about trying to get out of the house, all I have to do is tell her Bubble Pop is watching and she quits her lolly gagging and puts her boots on, coat, gets in the car, whatever the case may be and I have shaved an average of about 3 minutes off my departure times.
This week has been particularly challenging, as we get closer to the Christmas. I don't know if it was all the excitement of her school Christmas Program, followed by a party, followed by a large bag of candy and treats, but Madelyn has been extra "Sassy." There has been a lot of obstinance, foot stomping and my favorite, sigh of disgust. (Can't imagine where she learns these things?)
Yesterday, it went something like this:
Me: Madelyn, go potty.
Madelyn: No, I don't have to go potty.
Me: We are going to the store and you need to go potty before we leave. Please, go potty.
Madelyn: I DON'T HAVE TO GO!!! (Foot stomp)
Me: Seriously? For a little girl who wants Santa to bring her lots of presents this week, you aren't being very nice. Now, go potty. Bubble Pop is watching you!
Madelyn: I SAID I DON'T HAVE TO GO! (Double foot stomp)
Before my blood pressure rose and smoke came out my ears, I turned to my old pal, Bubble Pop. Luckily he was on the shelf behind me. And there I was, talking directly to Bubble Pop. I was tattling on my 3 year old to a frickin' elf.
Me: Bubble Pop, Madelyn is not listening to me. You need to go back and tell Santa that she has not been a very nice girl...
And before I could finish, I heard the sigh of disgust and a "fine, I'll go potty" she was off. Thank God, because I could hardly keep a straight face.
I have to admit, I feel kind of guilty...but only a little. It occurs to me that this whole Christmas thing is really a racket. Come to think of it, if I was a government official, I could probably be impeached and sent to jail for my actions. Let's start with the lesser infraction of tattling. Not something I encourage unless Colin is pulling down a lamp, art on the wall, our dogs' tail or is in some other grave danger.
Then there is forgery. Every time I write a label, "To: Maddie From: Santa" I feel guilty. Thus far, have been fortunate that Madelyn a) can't read and b) wouldn't know my handwriting or printing for anything. But she is getting older, smarter and above all else, has a phenomenal memory. I worry more that she will recognize the wrapping paper Santa uses as the same paper I bought at Target last week.
I think it goes without saying that adultery should be added to the mix. After all, I was caught "Kissing Santa Claus," wasn't I?
Bribery seems to be the gift that keeps on giving and is one I use all year-round. I am also happy to know that I am not the only parent who does this seeing as how I heard a woman yell at her son from across the store, "I will buy you a Snickers bar if you get over here right now!" I personally keep Target Corporation in business one dollar at a time due to their "$1 Bins."
In the end I feel like a big fraud. By definition, fraud is deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage. Deceit? Check. Trickery? Check. Breach of confidence? Only when they learn the truth, I suppose. Dishonest advantage? You bet.
Other definitions say fraud is a "deliberate misrepresentation, which causes another person to suffer damages, usually monetary loss." I guess in this case, my kids certainly aren't "suffering" based on the number of presents they will receive this year and the only monetary loss is from our own checking account.
Ok, so I am not going to jail for pretending to be Santa or for telling my kids that this little plastic elf is going to report to Santa and if they are bad, they won't get presents. But all this lying is a lot of work and requires creativity and will only get harder as they get older.
My biggest fear, however, is the week after Christmas when I can no longer use Bubble Pop and the threat of returning all their toys wears off. I guess maybe I should start developing a prototype for an Easter Bunny on a shelf?