How that Elf on the Shelf is slowly ruining Christmas for everybody...
I can't wait to log on to Facebook and Instagram every morning and see what everyone did with their elf on a shelf... said no one, EVER.
It's the creepy Christmas craze destined to end up pressurising you even more, scare your kids and make you feel like a slacker parent.
Research actually suggests that you might get exactly the opposite effect than you want with your kid's behaviour by having this little lad in the house.
There's something about using rewards - or a lack of them - as a form of discipline that ultimately undermines the child's chances of behaving just for the sake of behaving.
Essentially they cop that if they kick up a dust every now again, it means when they do behave they get stuff. So it's worth misbehaving for a bit, to get things for behaving.
I get that the real elves more or less have the same implicit threat informing to Santa and have a back catalogue of examples of children that actually got the bag of coal. I know a guy who did. He's still in therapy.
But the elf on the shelf is an informant actually living in your house. And what happens in the New Year when they have the toys and the elf is in Lanzarote and not monitoring behaviour? Cue meltdowns and tiaras and tantrums.
The new elf on the shelf fad is for this pint-sized pixie to be photographed in all sorts of mayhem, breaking house rules, creating a mess, getting into things that he shouldn't.
I've seen pictures of him with Barbie and Princess Jasmine in a pretty compromising position, with lines of icing sugar alongside a credit card, doing a great impression of Bad Santa style partying. Not exactly role model material, I would have thought.
Seems to me that an elf on the shelf is just another thing to buy, another product that's meant to somehow create Christmas magic.
You can now get elf on the shelf books, DVDs, a film and a fluffy elf that can be cuddled because you're apparently not meant to touch the real one. It's marketed as a tradition. Tradition for how long? The last few years? That's not a tradition. That's a great cash bonanza for whoever came up with it.
What about all sitting down together to watch a Christmas film? Making mince pies? Making homemade Christmas cards with buckets of glitter and stickers?
The worst thing about elf on the shelf, is there you are tucked up in bed, drifting off, when suddenly it hits you. The damn elf on the shelf. Where is he? Has he already ended up somewhere other than the last place your kids saw him? Better wake up. Get out of bed and check. Or you're dealing with crying children in the morning. 24 different nights. 24 different ideas that the little elfin has to come up with it.
Think about the hassle that involves. Who are these elves that manage to be so creative? They must live with the parents that are brilliant at everything and have loads of time on their hands. The ones that heap the guilt on the rest of us.
The elf is the new frontier of parenting wars. 'Mine managed to make snow angels in the icing sugar on the island'. 'Mine managed to write a note to my kids'. I get it, you're better parents than the rest of us slackers.
It won't ever come into my house. I want to get back to when the creepy-looking things were for Halloween only.