3. He's manipulative.
Plenty of parents have concerns about the idea of using the threat of Santa's little tattle-taling helper to coax kids into behaving themselves. As one Salon blogger recently pointed out, "it reinforces the message to even very young children that the only reason to be good to each other is to get stuff."
Isn't that just an extension of the tradition of jolly old St. Nick himself, though? After all, as the song goes, "He knows if you've been bad or good..." Like most busy moms out there, I have nothing against a little bit of well-placed bribery. That being said, I don't drag Santa into it. I try only to threaten consequences I'm actually willing to follow through on, and let's face it: My kids are only going to be this little for a very short time. Barring serious, illegal activities, Santa Claus is coming to town.
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4. He's an over-achiever.
Well, it's probably not so much the Elf who's the over-achiever as it is the moms who stay up all hours of the night creating new and often over-the-top new ways to position Santa's little helper. Yes, it seems the poor Elf has unwittingly entered the dreaded Mommy Wars. Take a quick look at Pinterest and you'll find entire boards devoted to EOTS inspiration. Here, in no particular order, are some of the more inventive ideas: Elf taking a Hershey's Kiss-sized poop on batch of freshly baked cookies, Elf making snow angels in a pile of flour dumped on the kitchen floor, Elf building an igloo out of sugar cubes, Elf sitting on the edge of the toilet fishing goldfish crackers out of the bright blue potty water.
I think it's this last complaint that has landed me so firmly in the anti-elf camp. The whole just thing seems to have gotten a bit out of hand. In keeping with our tendency towards slightly obsessive parenting these days, we have taken a simple little holiday tradition and turned it into a Martha Stewart monster. Don't we have kids to raise and relationships to maintain?
But yes, in the end I do realize that most of that is likely on me. The mom who posts photos of her Elf sitting hilariously atop a mountain of warm, sticky, home-made donuts probably isn't doing it to make me feel bad about the fact that I barely managed to stick an Eggo waffle in the toaster this morning.
So, in the spirit of the holidays, a temporary truce: Whether you love the Elf or hate him, here's wishing you, your families and even that beady-eyed mischief-maker on your shelf a very happy holiday season.
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How do you feel about the Elf on the Shelf?