The Elf on the Shelf® is a special scout elf sent from the North Pole to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice lists. When a family adopts an elf and gives it a name, the elf receives its Christmas magic and can fly to the North Pole each night to tell Santa Claus about all of the day’s adventures. Each morning, the elf returns to its family and perches in a different place to watch the fun. Children love to wake up and race around the house looking for their elf each morning.
Am I the only person who thinks Elf on the Shelf is super creepy? I mean, it’s one thing to tell your kid that there’s a fat, happy man who travels the world in a single night via flying reindeer to deliver gifts. That’s preserving the magic of childhood. It’s a whole different thing to claim that this dude also has an army of spies who feed him information that’ll ultimately dictate who will or won’t get a gift based on their behavior. That’s extortion.
I hate when adults lie to kids. In kindergarten, my mom told me that she had a pair of magic binoculars that she could use to see how I was doing in class and whether I had earned my daily good behavior sticker or not. Welcome to the birth of my anxiety issues. In early elementary school, I was repeatedly taught that you could never subtract a bigger number from a smaller number. Mostly, I remember feeling really ripped-off when we were finally introduced to negative numbers. Maybe those two examples don’t seem like a big deal, but they’re some of my strongest memories from childhood. What does that tell you?
Granted, I’m not a parent, but I do spend at least half of my waking hours with 20 six- and seven-year-olds. When we do subtraction problems, I tell them that they can’t take away bigger numbers from smaller numbers… yet. “When you get into higher math, there’s a way to do it, but we’re doing it this way for now.” Is that so hard?
Culture trust, not deceit. Kids can handle the truth. They’re smarter than you think.