Let’s chat Elf on the Shelf alternatives, shall we? I always say that I want to savor every last drop of childhood magic. I am well-aware that childhood is fleeting. It’s gone in a blink. And, sometimes, when you are the parent of a gifted child, it’s gone even faster.
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Gifted kids ask BIG questions. And they ask those questions at the worst times.
As much as I adore the holidays and all the magic surrounding the season, a part of me is always waiting – and dreading- those questions. Can you relate?
Today I’m sharing two old stories. One is about the Tooth Fairy and the other is about that creepy Elf on the Shelf. When you are finished reading, I’d love for you to share some of your gifted-kid-meets-holiday-magic moments with me!
Savvy Kid? Check Out These Elf on the Shelf Alternatives
But first- are you wondering if your child is gifted/2e?
The Tooth Fairy is a hot topic of discussion among the six-year-old set, even amongst those who have yet to receive a visit. Leo is constantly asking me questions such as when I think he will lose his first tooth, how frequently I think he will lose teeth after the initial loss, what I think the Tooth Fairy will leave for him, the size of the Tooth Fairy compared to the average human, is it possible to request that the Tooth Fairy not take your tooth if you want to collect them, why does the Tooth Fairy want old teeth, what does the Tooth Fairy do with the teeth…
A couple of weeks ago, I was in the shower when Leo came bounding through the door at top volume with a pressing issue:
“Mum! Mum!!! Do you want to know what I think about the Tooth Fairy?! I think the Tooth Fairy is a NATIONAL HOAX! I bet it’s the parents of the kids!”
I responded that it was rude to barge into a bathroom without knocking and that he needed to give me privacy while I showered and got ready for the day. And then I took my sweet time. By the time I came downstairs, he had moved on to Lego creations.
This is not the first time that he has questioned magical traditions. When Leo was three, he very nearly drove me to the brink of insanity was quite a handful behaviorally. That Christmas, we received an Elf on a Shelf and while we were absolutely silly to think that the plastic elf would solve our behavior struggles, everyone raved about Elf on a Shelf’s magical powers and we were desperate for a quick fix. For those unfamiliar with Elf on a Shelf, it’s basically an insanely creepy looking elf doll that comes with a storybook. The basic premise is that Santa sends “scout” elves to some homes to help him manage his naughty and nice list. Each day during the Christmas season, the elf watches the behaviors of the children in the home. Upon first arrival, the children must name the elf and they are told that they must never touch the elf, or he will lose his magic. The elf watches the children daily and each night, once the children are asleep, he flies to the North Pole to give a behavior report to the big man. He then flies back and so when the kids wake in the morning, the elf is in a new spot. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Merrrrry Christmas!! Speaking from experience, the whole remembering-to-move-the-elf thing is a huge pain in the arse, and the whole “elf watching you” thing is incredibly creepy. But, I’m not gonna lie: I totally wish I had thought of it because this country loves the Elf on a Shelf tradition, the memories it creates, and it’s power over naughty children.
I digress. Let’s just say that the Elf on a Shelf did not work for us as it did for many of my friends. That elf was waaaaay more trouble than he was worth. Other friends raved about how they saw an immediate decrease in problem behaviors once their elf flew into town. Not us. We saw a sharp spike in naughtiness that continued to increase with time! Our first warning should have been the naming of the elf. While most children I know named their elves after objects, toys, or food, Leo named our elf Edgar.
|We proceeded to read Edgar’s storybook together, and then came the questions. Why does the elf look fake? Why does Santa send elves to only some families? How, exactly, does the elf work? It can’t be alive because it looks like a doll. If it’s alive, why doesn’t it blink or breathe? Why does the elf have to stay in the same spot all day? Isn’t he bored? Does he ever have an itch? Does he ever need to use the bathroom? How does he fly without wings? How does he enter the house when everyone is sleeping? Does he change clothes? Can his clothes even come off? Does he have a penis? Does anyone have a girl elf?|
As the days wore on, things became more complicated. Leo saw elves in friends’ homes. Why do all the elves look exactly the same? How could Edgar see him behaving badly if he was in another room? Outside? At school? At a friend’s house? What if he thought about bad things– Edgar couldn’t report that because you can’t see thoughts. Would Santa really not bring presents based on Edgar’s reports?
Then came what I call the experiments. Schizz and I would catch Leo behaving badly for Edgar’s eyes only. We’d catch him throwing something, or jumping on the couch, in front of Edgar. One time, I saw Leo tossing objects at Edgar when he didn’t think I was looking. I reminded him of the book and cautioned that touching Edgar could result in lost magical powers.
|One afternoon right before Christmas, I was in our kitchen (Edgar was in the adjacent dining room, hanging out on our centerpiece where he had landed that morning). I overheard Leo saying, “Santa is just a random guy with a penis.” Now this I had to see … quickly, I tip-toed to the doorway where I could observe the interaction. There was Leo, pants around his ankles, mooning our elf!!! I must have made a sound or movement because he jumped and quickly pulled up his drawers. When I inquired as to what was happening, he told me that he was “testing the elf to see if it really worked.” He said he had been touching the elf in previous days and that the elf didn’t lose his magic, as he kept changing positions in the house each morning. And, get this… he wanted to see if he would actually not get presents on Christmas morning if he misbehaved for the Santa-reporting Edgar.|
It was all a grand experiment, at the age of three, that risked every kid’s favorite morning.
Edgar had to go.
The next Christmas, a dear friend could not find her family’s elf in her attic. To keep with the season of giving, I helped her out. Sharing is caring!
3 Alternatives to Elf on the Shelf
Do you have a savvy kid, too? These options are low on stress and high on kindness–and that’s a win in my book!
The Kindness Elves
I love The Kindness Elves… and so do my kiddos. These adorable little elves are the brainchild of Anna, a former primary school teacher, mom to four, and owner of the popular website The Imagination Tree. Anna started the tradition years ago with her children as an alternative to the naughty elf tradition. These little elves inspire kindness in children and spread a little magic, too!
In our home, we use The Kindness Elves in conjunction with some of our most favorite books for spreading joy and kindness, including Humble and Kind and Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
The Doll KindThe Doll Kind was inspired by a real-life parenting moment that eventually landed the creator’s family on morning television. You can read the full story here (trust me, you won’t regret it!). These beautiful dolls empower children to spread joy and kindness in their corner of this earth. Each doll comes with kindness tokens, which children dole out as they perform random acts of kindness.
Best part? For every doll sold, The Doll Kind donates a doll to a child in need. How is that for spreading the love?
North Pole Ninjas
My youngest adores The North Pole Ninjas Mission Christmas by Tyler Knott Gregson. Anyone who receives this book and package been called upon to help carry out Santa’s top secret North Pole missions… and these missions involve spreading joy and kindness! You can see my little guy below, hugging his adorable sensei.
With a little creativity and help from the above, you can change the focus from naughty behavior to kind acts.
Each of the above would make for a wonderful family holiday tradition. And, while we are on the subject of the holidays, I’d like to share some of our favorite new-this-year holiday books:
- A Treasury of Christmas Stories and Songs (Parragon Books)
- The Biggest Smallest Christmas Present by Harriet Muncaster
- The Great Spruce by John Duvall
- The Nutcracker: From the Story by E. T. A. Hoffman (Parragon Books)
- The Snow Queen (Parragon Books)
These books would make perfect stocking stuffers for the little ones in your life!
Are you looking for the perfect gift for your savvy child this holiday season?
Be sure to check out our gift guides:
Now, it’s your turn. Tell me: Do you have a funny gifted-kid-meets-childhood-magic moment to share? I’d love to hear it!
On a busy day twenty-two thousand people come to visit Santa,
and I was told that it is an elf’s lot to remain merry in the face of torment and adversity.
I promised to keep that in mind.
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, Scary Mommy, GeekMom, and many others. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram
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