12/17/2012

An Elven Screed

At the risk of being labeled a Scrooge henceforth - I am going to go out on a limb and offer up my thoughts on one of the most annoying and disturbing trends of the season: The Elf on the Shelf.

Firstly (and really, this is just a side note that has very little impact on my feelings on the matter, but it's worth mentioning), those dolls are creepy. Have you seen their eyes? And their little evil faces? These dolls are what Chucky was modeled after. Or they were modeled after Chucky. Either way, I wouldn't turn my back on them if they make their way into the kitchen.

Secondly (and more to my point), I don't understand the parenting thought process that revolves around an inanimate object convincing kids to be good. How does a creepy plastic doll, or a fat man in a red suit, for that matter, convince kids that being good is a good thing? Only because there is some promise of reward in a very short period of time.

I've heard too many friends leaping for joy that Elf on the Shelf season is back because now their kids will obey. If you're relying on a doll sitting on a bookcase to keep your kids in line, you've not quite grasped the concept of being the grownup in the scenario. Now, I'll be the first to admit, I've bribed my kid to good behavior and I'll do it again and most likely bribe the baby when he's old enough to need it. BUT that is not the sole source of my parenting. In fact, good behavior doesn't always (or heck, often) get a reward - I really am trying to drive home the points that good behavior is it's own reward and that you do the right thing because Jesus wants you to.

I think I've said before that we also don't really do Santa. We go get a picture taken, but the elder boy asked at around 2 years old if Santa was real and I said no, but he's fun to pretend. He asks again periodically, and I still say no. There are numerous reasons, but the primary one is that I don't ever want to lie to him - especially if it's about believing in someone who isn't visible who gives us good gifts. Because there are two who fit that bill: Santa and God and I don't ever want him to think that because I made up Santa that I might also be pretending with God. A secondary reason is that, when you take Santa out of the equation, it's a lot easier to keep Christmas focused on Christ's birth rather than gimme gimme gimme.

All that to say, that I suppose it's reasonable given the way we celebrate around here that I find the Elves on Shelves ridiculous (since their whole purpose is to report to Santa and, well, see the previous paragraph.) But when you throw in that these dolls, which are supposed to encourage good behavior for the month of December, are some of the most poorly behaved dolls (based on the silly scenarios their owners construct for them) I've ever seen...well, it's kind of a disconnect. What are we saying? "Kid, you be good or I'll tell Santa. Now excuse me while I go swing from the ceiling fan." Even dolls get to preach "Do as I say, not as I do?"

No wonder kids are confused and act up.

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