Monday, December 17, 2012

My Elf Ain't on the Shelf

Confession time: We don't have an Elf on the Shelf. Well, we do have several elves, and one might hang out on a shelf, but no official Elf that reports to Santa. I thought that, at $29.99, an Elf was a bit expensive considering that the kiddo won't believe in Santa forever. Don't get me wrong, I like the idea, and I enjoy hearing the names they are given, how my friends forget to move them until the last minute, and all the pranks the Elves seem to play. The pranks might be what makes it worthwhile, since that could go on until the kiddo is in college (or beyond!). In fact, I might try to find one on clearance or on Ebay.

Anyway, as I have mentioned before, I have my own ways of blackmailing encouraging good behavior: I have a direct line to the North Pole. Not to Santa himself--that is a last resort, as in nothing-else-is-gonna-stop-the-tantrum-train. No, my direct line is to the Elf who is in charge of our house. Their assignments change every year; this year, our Elf is a girl named Hilda. This revolving Elf assignment is not for creativity--it's in case I can't remember the name from the previous year!

The Elf isn't usually contacted unless the kiddo is doing something I don't like; the Elf is usually used as a threat before things get ugly, like "I know you are going to pick up all those toys, because you don't want me to call Hilda the Elf". Sometimes, though, calling the Elf in front of the kiddo is the only way I can stop undesirable behavior after it has started, like the defiance and wailing that ensued after I asked her to hand over a pen (she didn't have any paper out, so I didn't understand why she needed a pen, unless it was to add to the design she had already made on the chair). In case you are hoping that I really do know an elf's phone number, I need to explain that the number I call is really my mom's. She plays along and takes my "report", so that my responses sound authentic. (OK, that just makes it fun for me. The kiddo buys it hook, line and sinker.)

However, my system isn't perfect, and there are a few things I need to change: first, I need to call the Elf and praise the kiddo's good behavior sometimes, too. It's more important to emphasize the good stuff rather than complain about the bad stuff. Second, I might need to find a new Phone Elf. My mom is a good sport, but she keeps trying to talk to me about other things during these calls. I guess I could just be mean and hang up on her. Don't tell Santa, OK?

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