I was taken down by the Elf-on-the-Shelf
I want my kids to believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny – and all of the magic surrounding holidays.
They’re getting older. They’re seeing things. It’s starting to be a lot of lies – and yesterday just made it So. Much. Worse.
When my boys were babes, it was never a question. I didn’t mind lying to them about the magic of these childhood beliefs. I figure they’ll get jaded as they get older, develop the healthy cynicism of adulthood soon enough – but they’re just fresh little kids who can have fun enjoying the magic – plus they get money, chocolate, gifts – seriously?
This being said, we don’t do Elf-on-a-Shelf. It’s too much pressure – I discussed it last year in this blog post. But now that my eldest is 9-and-a-half, he’s catching on. Yesterday we were out doing some Chrismakah shopping (we do both Christmas and Hanukkah) at Chapters, he saw a sale table piled high with Elf-on-a-Shelf kits.
IN THE CHILDREN’S DEPARTMENT.
Now it’s not that he’s a wee one. He’s starting to catch on that the big guy in the red suit just may be more symbolic than real. But when started hinting at it, trying to ask-without-asking whether Santa is real, I gave him my pat response.
“You only get presents from Santa if you believe in him.”
Nobody argues with this. It makes sense on many levels.
But yesterday… Yesterday it went bad.
He saw the pile of Elf-on-a-Shelf kits, and he had questions.
“Mom, why are the Elves in boxes?”
“Mom, I thought Santa sent Elves to spy on the kids he wasn’t sure about, right?”
“Mom, does Santa sell his Elves?!?!?!?!”
I was struck speechless – which never happens to me. But what would you do? Do you tell the kid this is just a commercialized gimmick? That will just landslide into what else isn’t real.
Do you make up another lie? “Honey, they come out at night and play in the store – with all of these toys!”
Do you get much more dastardly? “Sweetheart, Santa sends Elves to the store so that parents who want Santa to spy on them can have one, even if Santa isn’t worried about those kids.”
I spent the night trying to justify the response I gave him, which was, in reality, no response at all. I tried to hurry him away from the Elf-on-a-Shelf mountain by waving some Bendi Brick in his face. He’s been dying for that brick tape that you can stick anywhere and build LEGO onto it. But even that wasn’t distracting him.
He circled the table, scratching his head. He looked at me for insight and, in my desperation, I said, “Okay, let me Google it.”
Let me Google it? That’s all I had.
Then my son has asked if we need to free the Elves. If they’re being sold like slaves. If they need our help. I thought I may have to buy every single Elf kit and liberate all the little guys in front of him to keep up the charade. I handed him the phone and told him to Google it.
iPhone in hand, he forgot his question and launched Bowmasters. My iPhone had saved the day. But for how long.
Now we’ve never had a perfect answer for how Santa is in every mall. I always tell my kids that Santa doesn’t have time for pictures, so he allows people to represent him and take pictures, but that these guys are actors. I may have mentioned that Santa’s magic helps them grow white beards and big bellies. Another lie.
But nobody ever put a big $%#@ing sign that said “Have your picture taken with imposter Santa, ON SALE NOW!
To protect the magic of Christmas, and avoid the questions I did, I’m asking for all Elf-on-the-shelf kits to be kept out of sight. You may even need a code word to ask for one so that it can be put into a dark bag and never seen by the eyes of children at the mall or toy store. Like cigarettes and dirty mags. Elf-on-the-Shelf needs to be sold on the sly! For the sake of the children!
Wishing you a wonderful season free of questions you can’t answer!