Our version of the Elf on the Shelf phenom has arrived back at our house on November 30th, just in time to perform his first stunt on December 1st. This will be our second year spending the weeks prior to the holiday with a sneaky little elf in our home. We do things a little differently than the original book, you can read our whole start with Marco the Elf here from last year, but as a quick run-down here are the main things that differ from our Team Studer version from the original:
- we have The Elf on the Shelf: Plushee Pal so that the kids can hold him and love him all day. In the original story, the kids are instructed not to touch him, but with two very young kids - they hang out with Marco all day and then put him to sleep in a box on our tv stand before bed.
|Grey and Marco playing the Wii together|
- The biggest thing that we do differently than the original is that Marco is introduced to our kids as an elf that they are to look after and help guide towards being kind and making good choices until Santa comes to pick him up. Our family operates on the idea that we are kind and try our best all year around, so the idea of presenting an elf to the kids that would tell Santa about when they were naughty went against all of the things we talk about all year. The letter that arrives with Marco from Santa highlights this idea. We don't talk at all about Marco 'telling on' the kids to Santa or that they should be good because Santa is watching. We just continue to talk as we do all year (that we try to be good all the time) and Marco gives us an opportunity to remind others (Marco) about making good choices.
I wanted to re-use some of our activities from last year with Marco that the kids still talk about. Marco had a whole page outlined in our 2012 yearbook and the kids love looking back on Marco and all the funny things he did. Some of their favorites included the fort, green milk, and hanging up from their underwear!
Marco's first stunt this year was to build a fort and the kids loved it again like last year. We thanked Marco for the fun surprise but also reminded him that, "if you make a mess, even for fun, you have to be ready to help clean up when we're done playing with it."
Marco has also helped to give encouragement to Gemmi while she is practicing potty training. He left a little note for her and some hilarious butterscotch chips in the potty. The kids were cracking up.
Today we had the perfect opportunity to remind ourselves why we choose to do our version of the Elf versus the standard version. Greyson decided to draw big swirls all over our leather couch today with A PEN. [gasp]. After having Grey try to scrub it off (using Honest cleaner and a rag), until he sighed and said, "eh, I can't. There's too much." I was fuming. He didn't seem remorseful in the least! And in the heat of the moment it was so easy to look at that 'Santa-it's-going-to-come' bait dangling in front of my face. Mmm, it would have tasted sweet to snap at that. But instead, I caught a glimpse of Marco and decided it was the perfect teachable moment to talk about making bad choices and what to do. Instead I told Grey that it was a very bad choice to draw on the couches. Very, very bad choice. These were our couches for our whole family and we need to take care of our things so we can all use them. I said, "when you make a bad choice, you need to come tell Mum and Dad and ask for our help to fix it. We can't always fix your mess, but we can help if you ask us."
Then we acted it out - I went to the kitchen and Grey came in whimpering, "Mum, I made a bad choice and I need some help." We went back into the living room again - Me feeling much less like a red hot scalding tea kettle - and we scrubbed together to clean the couch off.
Thanks, Marco for helping us, parents too.
It only takes a quick pin-search to see mountains of suggestions for Elf on the Shelf hilarity, but if you're interested in taking a look at our upcoming Marco schedule for the rest of the month, here is what it looks like for a 21month old and 3.5 year old.
Happy elf'ing out there to all of you!