The Elf on the Shelf. Love him, loathe him, no one is without an opinion it seems...
Who knew a tiny doll, helper to one Santa F. Claus, could be such a divisive and contentious subject among parents? The Elf is getting attention on social media, and plenty of it.
I confess I'm not too cozy with the idea of the Elf. As a mom to a boy with special needs, I have misgivings about a tool (albeit a fun one) basically used to blackmail kiddos into behaving for the month of December.
My son - like most kids with autism - is incredibly literal, so I worry about 'lying' to him, even if it is in the guise of a sweet childhood mythology. Fortunately, he's not too hung up on the idea of Santa, and he hasn't shown much interest in writing or otherwise sitting on him. And I haven't pushed it.
I'm more interested in him grasping the spirit of giving and togetherness that I love about Christmas. That's the true magic as far as I'm concerned - not some dude in a red fat suit.
But back to the elf... My guy tends to be impulsive and reactive. It's still quite the struggle to keep his behaviour on track. Needless to say, this whole idea of a naughty and nice list makes me break out in hives. The idea is outdated, frankly, and has the potential to be damaging.
I've been working so hard to get my son to slow down and think about the impact his actions have on others. I want him to be kind for kindness's sake - not because there's a gift (or a punishment) tied to it.
So you can see why I've struggled with the Elf concept: this shifty-eyed minion sent by Santa to do his bidding, to spy on kids and report back. And by now you can probably gather why I politely declined when a well-meaning loved one gave my son the Elf book as a present.
But this post isn't about trashing a tradition that many kids (and let's face it, their creative, fun-loving parents) look forward to. It's about seeking out an alternative that may work better for kids like mine. Kids who are working unbelievably hard every single day and don't deserve to be labelled 'naughty.'
Fortunately, that alternative came in the form of Kindness Elves by this amazing early education teacher and blogger.
Kindness Elves do away with the spying and focus instead on the kindness, suggesting daily acts of generosity and selflessness both at home and in the community that truly exemplify what this whole Christmas thing is supposed to be about.
You can read more about it here, but the gist is that the elves still move around nightly. Their job is to encourage kindness and to notice acts of kindness that your kids have been up to, thus prompting more of the same.
I don't know about you, but that is one Elf I can get behind.
Now to find a doll that isn't too creepy looking... It's not too late.
Image Source: peapodsquadmom