One of our family’s favorite Christmas traditions is “Elf on a Shelf.” Yesterday we unpacked it from our Christmas box eager to share this fun Christmas tradition with Tyler. Things didn’t go quite like we thought they would..
It was bedtime. We all gathered in the livingroom to do our nightly scripture study/ bedtime prayers and read our bedtime book. Our first book for the Christmas season was, “Elf on a Shelf.” As we read the book it explained:
“Have you ever wondered how Santa could know if you’re naughty or nice each year as you grow?
For hundreds of years it’s been a big secret. It now can be shared if you promise to keep it.
At holiday time Santa sends me to you. I watch and report on all that you do.
My job’s an assignment from Santa himself. I am his helper, A friendly scout elf.
Each night while you’re sleeping to Santa I’ll fly..to the North Pole right through the dark sky.
Of course Christmas magic helps me to be quick. I laugh with my friends and report to Saint Nick.
I’ll tell him if you have been good or been bad. The news of the day makes him happy or sad.
I’ll be back at your home before you awake, and then you must find the new spot I will take.
You’ll jump out of bed and come running to see: who’ll be the first to spy little old me?”
When we received our elf as a gift four years ago the kids named him Buster. They introduced Tyler to Buster and explained the rules:
1. Kids can’t touch the elf or he will lose his magic.
2. Buster can’t talk but he can listen and will tell Santa the secrets you tell him.
Gracie, Molly and Rusty have always loved to go looking for Buster in the morning to see who could find him first and see what mischief he has been up to in the night. We thought Tyler would be equally excited..well he wasn’t! As we read the story he kept eyeing Buster warily and asking us, “Is this really true?” He kept watching Buster out of the corner of his eye and wanted to know things like..”How does he get out of the house? Does he fly? Can he hear me? Why don’t his eyes move?” When it was time for Tyler to go to bed he didn’t want to go. He asked if he could sleep with his light on. I said that was fine. I didn’t realize Buster was the cause of his anxiety until he asked me to “shut the door so that elf can’t get in!” For the next hour Tyler kept calling me in his room…
“Mama, can Buster open doors?
“Mama, if Buster can fly to Santa why can’t he fly into my room?
“Mama, can you tell Buster not to come in my room when I’m sleeping.”
“Mama, I don’t want him to sneak up on me when I’m sleeping and scare me.”
“Mama. tell Buster he better not come in my room..Oh, and Mommy, tell him I want a bike and a balloon..”
“Mama, I want you to put Buster outside. I don’t want him in the house. Put him up high though..I don’t want Winnie to eat Buster.”
I put Buster on the front porch. About 1/2 hour later Tyler decided he might still get in…
“Mama, can you lock Buster in the car. I don’t want him to escape.”
I then locked Buster out in the car… I was now thinking that this “fun family tradition” was dying a slow, painful death and perhaps we just needed to put everyone out of their misery and pack Buster away until next year.
Toby went in to check on Tyler one last time before we went to bed and found Tyler curled up in his blankets sobbing. As Toby rubbed his back and tried to find out what was wrong he found out the real reason he was scared of Buster..
Tyler: “I don’t want Buster in the house. He is going to tell Santa I’m a bad boy.”
Toby: “Buster isn’t going to tell Santa you are a bad boy because you aren’t a bad boy.”
Tyler: “I am a bad boy. I am always a bad boy.”
Toby: ” I don’t know who told you that you are a bad boy but they are wrong. You are a good boy..a very good boy..and I love you. Buster is not going to tell Santa that you are a bad boy…”
Tyler thought about that for a minute
Tyler: “…Ok, Buster can come in the house..but tell him he’s not allowed in my room.”
Poor Tyler must have heard he was a “bad boy” so often in his past because he can’t seem to let go of that label. As much as we tell him that he is a good boy he seems hesitant to believe us. I think being the “bad boy” is all he knows and all he dares to belive about himself. It breaks my heart.
He fell asleep soon after that. In the morning I knew things were ok and he was feeling better about the elf when I woke up to him running through the house yelling, “BUSTER, where are you?!!” Tyler was delighted to discover that Buster had been up to some mischief while he was sleeping…Oh Buster! 🙂