Barn Love

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Dreaded Elf on the Shelf

It's barely November and my Facebook Newsfeed and Pinterest threads are already full of ideas for the Elf on the Shelf.  Really people? Take a breath.

 I'm finding that there are two feeling about the good old elf - you either love it, or hate it.  In my case, I've been there, done that, and have a funny story to tell.

I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about it from the start. My son isn't the traditional sort of child by any means. He doesn't like trick or treating, in fact he gave out the candy this year, and he wouldn't be caught dead sitting on Santa's lap without some sort of ridiculous bribe from me.

But all the other moms are doing it - so I should be too.

We did everything right - my mother in law snagged one for a fraction of the cost the Christmas before and we packed it away until we thought he would be ready. Last year he was 3 and in preschool so he was going to be exposed one way or the other.  We wracked our brains for a creative name for the little darling.  One name after the next was tossed out - too silly, too boring, not festive enough.. blah blah blah.  You would have thought that we were picking out a name for our next child.  But finally it was decided, his name would be Sprinkles.

Sprinkles made his arrival early one morning in a bowl of Cheerios. Of course I got the idea from Pinterest and of course I thought it was the best thing ever.  My son, not so much.  He gave me this look of "what in the hell is that thing doing in my cereal and why do you think it's cute?"

We kept him high up on our bookshelf so that Sprinkles could "keep an eye on you and report back to Santa". My son was appalled by this - and now that I'm typing it, I am too. When I was a child it was creepy enough to think that some big jolly man with a beard knew what I was doing, let alone having an actual doll in our house keeping constant vigil. Think about it, the words to "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" are just a bit bothersome if you really sit down and think about it "He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake", that sounds like the set up for some bad movie.  (Don't get the pitchforks out and start a riot - I'm still a believer and want my son to be - just trying to make a point. )

In some ways I think that my son didn't like the idea because he couldn't risk Santa not coming. At one point he even offered to buy his own toys from his favorite catalog.  Instead of it being fun, it was a mind game for him.

The final straw (we thought) was when we went on a cruise last year before Christmas. I packed Sprinkles in my suitcase and had a bunch of fun stuff planned. We visited Disney and Sprinkles left my son Mickey Mouse pajamas to wear...  and do you know what my son did?  He knocked Sprinkles off of our dresser and trampled on him.  We didn't know whether to laugh hysterically or turn him over to a therapist.  We decided to laugh it off and pack him away for the rest of the trip, telling him that Sprinkles was in the hospital on the ship. I was off of the hook for ideas for a few days and my son wasn't being "stalked". Life was good.

Then day after day I would see parent after parent proudly display their elves on Facebook and I would feel guilty. Perhaps it was time for Sprinkles to come home from the hospital.  His hat had fallen off from my son's attack on him - so we wrapped his head. While we were wrapping, we decided to bandage him up, make a sling, the whole nine yards. Thinking that some how some way that would make our son change his mind and feel some sort of remorse for his actions. Yeah, let's just say that back fired. His eyes were as big as saucers when he found Sprinkles and his expression was one of "you have GOT to be kidding me".

It wasn't until then that we finally gave up on Sprinkles. My parents understood, after all they were with us on the cruise and saw what happened to him. My dad even jokingly said that "snitches get stitches". But we felt some sort of pressure from the rest of the family to keep it going.  When we packed our house up for the renovation I thought about keeping it close by for the holiday season. Then I laughed to myself and packed it up. Sprinkles didn't give us the same memories that everyone else will probably have, but we still got one heck of a laugh out of it.

A piece of me was sad - I knew that as soon as I would start seeing all of the ideas flood my news feed that I would want to jump on the bandwagon. Why do I feel like a bad mom for not pushing the idea and making my child be like everyone else's so that I can be like the other moms?  The truth is my son isn't like other kids and at the end of the day, I don't want him to be. So rock on buddy, at least you won't live your life feeling like somebody's watching you and I won't be scouring the internet for new ideas.


  1. It is a bit much to imply that your son is an individual just because he didn't like the elf and other children are some how conformist. I also don't believe there is much forcing of the elf going on, why would a parent want to mess with it. Again, braty behavior by no means makes anyone an individual.

  2. If my first reply shows up later I am sorry, it disappeared. This story was so familiar, its like I lived it. Actually I have been avoiding this Elf on the Shelf & Randall Reindeer for over 19 years, not because I hate but like you I felt it may be to much pressure on a kid. I remember as well trying to be good enough for Santa's eyes, let alone another.

    My oldest would write her letter to Santa by Halloween and it was extensive. She was four and was learning to write so although my first words were 'don't you think I'll forget to send it' her reply was 'don't worry I'll remind you'.....My second was my boy Davy who my daughter was quick to help write his letters, and he'd draw pictures emphasizing his point. Obviously Santa's prying eyes were constantly on their minds. So my being creeped out by an Elf or Reindeer was not necessary.

    Now that the others are 19 and 12, we have a three year old, Bubs. I was encouraged by a very sweet older lady to try it. Following my usual addage of don't knock it till you try it, I caved. Dad's first words to Bubs were 'Randall the snitch. You know he's going to tell Santa. You know what they say Snitches get Stitches.' I was stuck between laughing my butt off and telling Bubs that Daddy was teasing him. I did both, it was appropriate for my personality. Bubs looked at us like we were crazy and had no idea what we were talking about. So we've tried it with slight results, so occasionally we mention Randall and usually allow him to play with him in the mornings putting him back on the shelf in the morning. He's better behaved while playing with the doll like a friend (cause friends don't tattle, lol) and I'm good with it. Maybe next year or with future Grandbabies....

  3. Thank you! I've been waiting for someone to touch on the deeper issue of how this product is harming our more sensitive children. Sharing!

  4. HuffParents shared your story recently and all I can say is THANK YOU! I am so happy and relieved to know that the non-interest is not just in my household.