Monthly Archives: December 2014

Elf Help

Last year, Elf on the Shelf came to live at our house–a gift from Grandpa. And it was a godsend. Big became immediately obsessed with it, and carted it around everywhere with him. The elf even went with him in kindergarten, and seemed to have a somewhat positive effect on what was otherwise a rather uphill slog toward appropriate behavior.

I was a little dubious, at first. After all, I am a Pinterest Denier, so I certainly wasn’t going to make more work for myself moving that elf all over the Fun Apartment every night. After all, there’s just not that many places to hide things around here. How many times can we hide the elf in the cat’s litter box before that gets old? But after only one time of nearly getting caught with the elf stuffed under my pajamas, we worked out a solution. Luckily, it seems we have an elf that is lazy and kids with low expectations. We don’t have to stay up all night stuffing the elf into unlikely incriminating situations. Instead, he stays put and just writes them notes in my handwriting. And he only does it sometimes. When he remembers.

And I was mildly uncomfortable ceding my authority to six inches of plastic. And I don’t love the dynamic of it: Shouldn’t the motivation to not grab from one’s brother be “Grabbing isn’t cool”? Not when the elf is there. Then it’s “Don’t grab because this elf has his overly-large eyes fixed on you. And he will report you.” And there’s this whole thing, too.

In the end, I swallowed my reservations last year, and the elf really did help, however dodgy the whole thing seemed.

This year, I was kind of looking forward to having the elf back me up on some discipline issues. The elder lad seems to be have some background application running, that doesn’t free up enough memory for him to pay attention or self-regulate. This rough patch was starting to get ugly and I was kind of looking forward to elf-regulation, instead.

Maybe I should have gotten a tougher elf. Do they make one that had a few inches of rubber hose, or some brass knuckles, a very deep voice and lots of interesting scars? Because it only took about two nights of “The elf is watching!” before the elf became less of a magical holiday friend and more of a snitching party-pooper. Before our first week of holiday preparations was up, the boys played a game in which the elf was stuffed in a bucket and sent to Africa.

No elves were (permanently) harmed in the taking of this photo.

No elves were (permanently) harmed in the taking of this photo.

At least it was a holiday-themed bucket.

I’m relieved and disappointed all at the same time. I don’t necessarily want kids that slavishly follow a plastic doll’s instructions. (Or if I do, then I want a film crew in here now to capture the whole thing and turn into blockbuster!) But I wouldn’t mind a little fear of repercussion once in a while, or a little back up on the obviously empty threat of no Christmas presents.

That would really help on the elf control around here.





Filed under Not cool, Mommy

Hey, thanks!

Now that the rest of the world has moved on to some new holiday, I thought I’d reflect on the last one, because I come late to every party.

Here’s how we celebrate Thanksgiving at the Fun Apartment:

I better get a rake. . . .

I better get a rake. . . .

Throughout November, every night at dinner. we each say what we’re thankful for that day, and write it on a leaf. So the tree starts out bare and ends up full of happy-thanky little leaves. It’s like watching Fall happen in reverse. I’m not sure where I got the idea, but I probably stole it from a magazine.

And it’s kinda fun! When we started, the oldest could barely articulate his thanks, and I think his leaves usually featured “Mommy” or “Cake.” But now he can write his own thanks, complete with illustration! And I do think he (mostly) grasps the concept of being thankful, even if he isn’t thankful for the usual suspects (Quick Poll: is anyone else in the world thankful for shipwrecks? Just checking. . . .)

Our younger fellow is now in the early stages. Most of his leaves maintain that he is thankful for “Lightning McQueen” or some other inane thing for which I am decidedly unthankful. But we’re getting there.

And it does help, after a wretched day of whining or after-school meltdowns, to pretend to be thankful for something. Because, usually it leads to being actually thankful. And if not, hey, fake it til you make it.

So, did we host a 14 person dinner here at the Fun Apartment? Not with our four chairs we didn’t. Instead, we joined some family upstate in a rambling house that slept all fourteen comfortably. It was like a wonderful dream! There was turkey! There was a fireplace! There was wine! There was snow! There were leftovers! There were games! There was more wine! It was a very “It takes a village” situation, because every time my kids wandered into the kitchen, someone fed them. And one day we all stayed in our jammies until nightfall, when we went out sledding. That may have been one of the best days ever.

The house was so big that I sometimes went hours without seeing my kids. They were content to play with their cousins, and seemed to never know boredom. It was brilliant, but I also kind of missed them. And by the end of the weekend, they were kind of falling apart. It was as if so much freedom made them dizzy. Despite all the tremendous good times, I think we were all kind of glad to be snuggled up together back here.

So, as always, I am thankful for the Fun Apartment.

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Filed under Living Small, The outside world