Fear Tactics: The Elf

Somehow I missed the memo about the Elf on the Shelf. Have you heard of this? It’s billed as a way to begin a new Christmas tradition, get kids excited about the holiday and make your house feel all magical and junk (OK, I’m not sure that’s actually a part of the advertising, but it’s implied).

My aunt gave us an Elf. I turned over the heavy, red box and gazed at our new friend. He’s creepy, but he’s…. endearing?

The Elf

I accidentally the Elf. Is that bad?

We told the Kaiser that the Elf had come over Thanksgiving, that he’d be there when we returned home from Nashville. Ergooooo, as we pulled into the driveway, I shoved the husband out of the car with a towel-covered Elf and whispered instructions, “friggin’ hurry.”

The Kaiser found the Elf with a bit of guidance. He stared. And didn’t buy it, telling me that it was, “a [stupid] toy.” I told him that no, he wasn’t a toy; he just looked like that to fool everyone. The Kaiser continued to glare. So I told him that the Elf is magic and that he flies off every night to tell Santa if he’s been a nice kid. That, friends, changed the game. He began telling the Elf what he wants for Christmas, describing each train and bike in careful detail so the Elf can relay to Santa.

“Elf. Tell Santa that I want: A new James. He is red. Also, a bike with TWO wheels. I want Skarloey and NOT a Rheneas.”

Totally doesn’t trust the Elf and totally thinks the Elf is dumb.

I just wish the advertisers had been honest about this shit. You know what the Elf is good for? Making your kid behave for a month outta the year. It’s amazing. It’s like Karen’s God in the Box, but not as creepy.

  • The Elf is watching. He’s always watching.
  • You don’t want the Elf to tell Santa that you did that, do you?
  • If you touch my purse onemoretime, I’m telling the Elf.

I may or may not (I MAY) have said such horrible things. I’ve stopped. Mostly.

The Elf brings up an interesting question: Why do we behave? Sure, I love good behavior, but I don’t want the Kaiser to do what’s right because he’s afraid of consequence or punishment. That said, consequence and punishment are the two things that work right now. He ain’t altruistic. He can be (sorta) compassionate, but self-interest drives his actions. We try to show by example what it means to be loving, compassionate and mindful. Until he gets it, we gots this (which I’m seriously considering keeping out year round):

The Elf

It's blurry because when I sat Elf on Ellie, she immediately tried to slither away. :/



Filed under Creepy Kid Stuff, Raising Kids

10 responses to “Fear Tactics: The Elf

  1. I accidentally this story. Seriously.

  2. I might buy this and put it on my cubicle so that it’s directly facing my graphic designer. It’ll be a nice replacement for the Geico eyes/money cut out I used to have. If I had $20, I’d totally do it. But for real, my mom is a 1st grade teacher, so this is DEFINITELY what she’s getting for Christmas from me. Idk if she can use it though. Gotta be careful for the Hanukkah/Kwanza folks.

    • sarafraser

      Ahaha. My Latin teacher in HS used Easter marshmallow peeps to inspire good behavior. He also stuck his hands down his pants. Often. True story.

  3. I am so sending you a pic of a set of elves i just picked up at a thrift store. They have a snowman buddy and a really freaky reindeer in tow- they all look like they have taken some illicit drug and are coming on to it. My family thinks they are creepy, but what’s x-mas w/out a smidge of, “uh, what the hell are those?!”

  4. There was a Discover mag article a few months back about how the 7 deadly sins lit up our brains in brain scans. Interesting, but the most curious thing of all was that the article ended by noting that more regions of the brain light up due to acts of altruism than due to any one of the multitudinous trespasses. So, um, being good feels better?

    Try to explain that to the Kaiser. I’m sure he’ll totally get it…

  5. Oh my gosh!!! I saw this at Hallmark, but I didn’t know what it was. I thought it was just some creepy looking decoration. Man, I love your take on it. Teaching altruism is like, impossible. Tattle-tale elf is probably the next best thing, for sure.

    • sarafraser

      It’s a funny thing, learning how to be a decent member of society. I have my Buddhist slant; the husband has his Catholic slant. Mostly, though, we talk about treating people in the way he wants to be treated. I think the kid has a good chance of kick-ass ethics. 😉 Eventually.

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