By Marci Fifield - Jan. 9, 2020
I read an article a year or two ago that suggested we, as parents, shouldn't use Santa Claus or an Elf on the Shelf to encourage good behavior. It was well written, it made perfect sense, and the writer was more than likely correct about the long term, psychological repercussions it would have on a child.
Oh, how I wish I was the kind of parent that takes rational advice and then attempts to follow that advice. Instead, I'm the parent that loves when someone else is the enforcer of the rules, and I'm just there to witness. For 11 months out of the year I have to ask my children as nicely as possible to do the things they need to do on a daily basis. Then, like most parents, I have to ask them again. Then I stop asking and I start demanding.
Pretty soon my initial request for them to go make their beds somehow turns into me saying things I never thought I'd have to say in my entire life, like, "stop trying to make the cat wear goggles" or "you can’t flush Prince Wednesday down the toilet."
Once Thanksgiving is over my anxiety level rises. I have to Christmas shop for everyone, coordinate work parties and schedule babysitters, prepare games for class parties, bake for all the Christmas gatherings, decide if a family picture on Instagram counts as a Christmas card, drive on the wet and snowy roads on a daily basis where it seems that zoo animals are operating the vehicles around me, and worst of all, be among the general public. People are really on edge during the Christmas season, more than likely because their kids are just as crazy as mine and they have just as much to accomplish as I do.
Another great annoyance of mine during the Christmas season is the Elf on the Shelf and all of his mischievousness. Of course, I tolerate him as he has become the third parent of the house during the most wonderful time of the year. He makes my job a little easier and I don't have to yell as often. Granted, I hate that he does snow angels in the powdered sugar and takes marshmallow bubble baths with Barbie, but it's a small price to pay to minimize my near constant, profanity-laced bellowing.
Now all I have to do when confronted by my children with whining or blatant insubordination, is point over to our elf, Biggie Smalls, and simply say, "he’s watching you." I'm not arguing that hands on, face-to-face parenting isn't the right thing to do, because I know it is. All I'm trying to say is, I don't feel like doing it right now.