It’s hard enough to be a parent. And social media has a way of sending your parental inadequacies into over drive. Elf on a Shelf is a perfect example. You get 24 days of how awesome Jennifer* is as a parent. Every day her kids wake up to see what creative new things their elf name, Espharanzetu (it has to have a creative name too, it can’t just be Frank) has been up to. And I have to wake up to a social media post of her mom-creativity. Her Elf on the Shelf is really her trying to win the “Good Mom Gold Ribbon.” Here I am just trying to put breakfast together —FRUIT! I need to add some fruit in there!
That’s why I use Elf on the Shelf as an example of “Good for you, not for me.” You are going on a weekend camping trip “Good for you, not for my family”. Your kid is a grandmaster Judo star. “Good for him, not for my kid.”
You have the time and energy to play along with the ELF - every - single - F—ing - night?! Good for you, my goal for the evening is making sure the kids have clean underpants when they wake up.
I have managed to use disdain for the Elf as a moral platform. “No, we do not need an Elf in our house. We already know we are a nice, kind family. We do not need a third party judging our behavior.” If I am feeling more hooligany, “I don’t want a narc in our house.”
I once met a mother who worked in social services. She said she hated the “be good or Santa won’t bring you toys” narrative. She was trying to teach her girls to be considerate of those less fortunate. I’m sure there is a lot of kids who are trying their best to be good. But no amount of niceness will give their parents the means to make Santa keep his half of the bargain.
Be good = get stuff.
How about just be good. Not just for 24 days, but year round.
And for the parents. How about just be good enough.
And no narcs allowed.
* Jennifer is not a real person — but a composite of individuals.