This week I got in my wonderful glossy page coffee table book of last years photos on Facebook. My granddaughter Sophia loved the picture book, but could not stop laughing at the photo of the Elf on the Shelf in the toilet. Over and over she wanted to see that photo, even if it really wasn’t a real Elf on the Shelf but a Made in Japan 60s Elf instead. Sophia wanted to know why I put him in the toilet. She has yet to read and be a judge of my humour writing on PEEPS and Elves so I just said,
“Because he deserved it!”
As I was carefully explaining that no one, especially she, should throw anything down the toilet, she had this look of relief on her face. I said, “Sophia, don’t you like the Elf on the Shelf?” She shook her head and said, “No, I don’t like them, and my friends don’t like them because they move around a lot and scare kids!”
I think my mouth dropped to the ground to hear this from the mouth of a six-year-old, but had to agree on this matter. I remember the vintage Made in Japan Elves all lined up on top of the upright piano when I was a child– and their faces gave me nightmares.
Today’s children are told this Elf on the Shelf, is only there to report back to Santa if they have been naughty or nice. If this thirty dollar plus elf really has the ability to be a toy during waking hours and then move around at night, I know I certainly would have wondered what this elf could possibly do while the family slept. Like Sophia, my younger self would have laid in bed with some light on after checking the closet to make sure this elf with maybe a few friends was in the area. Maybe even double check to make sure the elf didn’t have some weapon ready to reenact something out of Criminal Minds.
I don’t think Sophia has ever told anyone about her fear of the Elf on the Shelf, and I in turn did not tell her how scared I was when I was her age. Instead we laughed over and over about my photo of the Elf in the toilet and she kept repeating, “he deserved it!”
I told her if she had a problem with an elf, Daddy most certainly would not like her to put it in the toilet, but just open the front door, lay him on his side and kick him out into the great yonder. Gentle words reassured her the “elf business” was some sort of vague scam. Sophia didn’t really know what a ‘scam’ was, but it was enough for her to understand the Elf on the Shelf was not waiting or watching to deliver judgement when the lights went out. Besides, teaching children to uncritically accept intrusive surveillance is a little sinister in itself. Thank you Sophia for remembering how I felt, and I think you and I will just stick with Buddy the Elf, or maybe one of Gammy’s aggravating puppets.