There were several times when a well placed call to Santa would illicit tears from my youngest siblings if they were acting the fool when I was babysitting. When you’re thirteen and “parenting” you don’t always understand the long term consequences of the choices you make.
My parents didn’t use make believe people to keep us in line. We were afraid of disappointing them, that was the barometer. I can’t fault my fear of dolls on the elf on the shelf because we didn’t have one. I don’t remember leaving cookies for Santa and Rudolph. We each got a present from Santa under the tree but I realized very early that the tag was written in my mother’s hand.
I don’t know if these things helped us keep the reason for the season in the forefront. I don’t feel like I missed out on some magical moments of my youth. Sitting on a strangers lap and begging for stuff has always seemed weird and creepy to me.
I remember standing in line at the mall for what felt like hours when the goose was small. A stroller covered in our coats, still sweating. As we got to the front of the line she was getting more tense. If it were up to me I would have skipped the whole thing, but this is what you do. You take your kid to have their picture taken on the chubby bearded guys lap. When it was our turn she burst into tears. I picked her up, stepped out of line, and never tried again. I’m all about fantasy and if my kids had been at all interested in it I would have played the game. I’m a realist in a house full of realists. We watch movies and pick them apart as to their plausibility. We wonder how they made it snow on stage, we don’t revel in the magic of it. It’s just not how we are wired.
So the elf on the shelf. Not gonna happen. Nobody in this house wants some side glancing creeper keeping tabs on us. We won’t be enchanted by his mischief. We don’t need him to keep us on the straight and narrow. It’s totally cool if you employ such tactics. You have different kids. You are different people. I just encourage my kids to not be dicks all year long.