When I first started Elf on the Shelf with my oldest (6 years ago), I always said that I’d never use it to make him feel guilty or try to get him to behave for Santa. My parenting skills should be enough, right? It was just a fun little surprise to wake up to every morning in December.
But 5 years ago I didn’t have a 7 year old who picked on his little sister 24/7. My husband and I usually share the burden of the elf on the shelf shenanigans. He typically takes care of it on weekdays since he wakes up before all of us, and I usually take care of weekends because I stay up after everyone goes to bed. But last Thursday I snapped. I was particularly frazzled after hours of needless bickering from my kids and my son’s rather arrogant announcement that he could be bad and Santa would still bring him presents pushed me over the edge of my ever-fragile mom-sanity. So I sent them to bed early and printed off a note that read:
I didn’t go back to the North Pole last night because I wanted to give you a second chance at a good report to Santa! I only want to tell Santa that you’ve been really good, so let’s try again today! Be kind to each other and don’t fight so I can report back to Santa that you’ve been the really good kids that I know you are!
I stuffed it into the elf’s hands, and went to bed, hoping for a better tomorrow.
To say that my son was disappointed is an understatement. There were tears. My husband looked at me like I’d crossed a line that he never thought I’d cross. But after my little boy read the note from his favorite Christmas elf for the fiftieth time, he announced that he was going to clean up his act. And it worked!
For one whole day.
Which I guess is better than nothing. It was long enough to regain some of the sanity I lost the day before.