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Elf on the Shelf

Before the holidays one of my best friends sent me a link to what first appeared to be another holiday gimmick for kids.

I gave it about 30 seconds of “that’s weird and a little creepy” before realizing the potential.

Elf on the Shelf. (Also available in local Hallmark stores, I am told.)

The gist is that Santa sends an Elf to hang out in your house and observe the kids. Each night, the Elf (with a name assigned by your kids) flies back to the North Pole with a report on said child/children. Naughty or nice.

Of course, there are rules… like no touching the elf, the elf cannot speak (though the child may speak to the elf) and when the elf returns he (or she -- ours is a she) hides in a new spot waiting to be discovered in the morning.

I latched onto it with hopeful dreams of perfectly behaved children during the holidays, and my hopes may be realized.

Santa visited our house while we were traveling for the holidays and left Mina the Elf in our house.

My 4-year-old was a tough sell to start. “It’s a toy. It’s not real,” he proclaimed.

But I could see his skepticism, and pretty soon he was a believer.

He asked me repeatedly to bring the elf (in my hands since he is not allowed to touch it) to school so that Mina could observe him at school and see what a good boy he was. (This didn’t happen, much to his teacher’s relief I am sure. We have instead relied on Mina’s magical powers that see him at school.)

The slightest step out of line and all I have to do is look over to see if Mina is watching, and he quickly steps back in line.

I praised my daughter for bringing her dishes in to me and announced to Mina what a good little girl she was.

My son immediately jumped up from his unfinished meal and brought me his dishes -- despite not being done.

When my daughter was throwing a fit, my son was adamantly trying to get her to calm down so that Mina didn’t see her and give her a bad report to Santa.

Can we come up with a gimmick such as this designed to work the entire year?