Last year around this time, my older son asked me if we could “do” the Elf on the Shelf. I responded the way any smart, rational, overtired mother would. I backed out of the room slowly and came back five minutes later with a big bowl of freshly popped popcorn.
I.R.D. (Ignore-Redirect-Distract.) Elf crisis over.
I saw way too many blog posts, status updates, tweets, and memes about that smiling little prick. That spirited shit show ruined relationships and destroyed families. That perky piece of crap took the merry out of Christmas. I survived nine years of motherhood without the Elf on the Shelf, and damn it if I was going to give a f**k then.
Fast forward a year.
“Mom, can the Elf on the Shelf come to our house this year?” This from the nine-year-old with the big puppy dog eyes who will be double digits in a week.
“Can he please?” This from the seven-year-old who finally sprouted permanent front teeth.
I’ve lost my enthusiasm for a lot of parenthood-related things, like birthday parties, science fair projects, and back to school night, but I’m painfully conscious of the fleeting nature of childhood innocence. One day, your kid is writing a letter to the Tooth Fairy and the next day they’re begging for a Snapchat account.
My days are numbered. This I know.
It was impossible to wrap my arms around the concept of moving an elf around the house until Christmas, especially since I sometimes fell asleep before my kids (my husband was quick to point this out), but I caved because childhood… and innocence… and Amazon Prime.
“He doesn’t just show up.” Suddenly I was an expert. “You have to invite him.”
Ten minutes later, both kids handed over formal invitations (on index cards meant for practicing multiplication facts) that I was to put in the mail.
From the nine-year-old:
Hey Buddy, I would like you to come so you can play funny tricks! You seem so famous! This will be my first Christmas with you!
From the seven-year-old:
Hey elf come i love you
I promised to bring the invitations to the post office the next day and made a mental note that, in doing so, an overpriced dog toy would wreck my December and there would be no one to blame but me. Unless the dog ate the elf. Then, I could blame her (note to self).
The seven-year-old looked nervous. “Mommy, is the elf going to come in my bedroom?”
Why is everything magical also creepy?! “No, sweetie. The elf will hang out in the family room. Maybe the kitchen.”
Nerves turned into fear. “I don’t want him to come.”
Crap. “How about if we have a house rule that the elf has to stay downstairs? Okay? The elf won’t be allowed to go in anyone’s bedroom.” Were we talking about the Elf on the Shelf or stranger danger?
His faced relaxed. He left the room and returned a few minutes later with a revised invitation.
Hey elf come i love you
Dont Be creppy OK
Dont go upstairs elf
and dont hide in my bed OK
Turns out I was nervous, too.