My Kids Don’t Want an Elf… But I Do!

Over the years, I’ve seen a ton of Elf on the Shelf content online: hilarious photos, rants and complaints, elf kits and ideas, parents helpfully reminding other parents to move their elf, and so on.

I knew from the first time I saw it that an Elf on the Shelf would be right up my alley. Like, if I had been aware of it when I was in college, my roommates would have dealt with all sorts of elf shenanigans, because I would have gone all in. And despite all the aggravation I see parents sharing about their elves, it’s like a siren call to my creative side. I want to have that kind of fun! (Maybe it’s like how as a kid, I wanted glasses because they seemed like a cool accessory, but now that I actually have to wear them, they’re not as cool… who knows?)

But I also knew as a parent, I didn’t necessarily need that kind of extra stress in my life. I didn’t need the overwhelming set ups involving messes to clean up later, and I especially didn’t need to do it when my kids were too young to really understand what was going on.

So I held off.

Last year, my oldest son had an elf in his classroom for the first time. He was delighted by it, but we had a newborn at home and I knew I couldn’t squeeze an elf into our routine. It was honestly some pretty great self-restraint on my part, but I’ve been trying to learn my limits and not overwhelm myself, which I’m usually prone to doing. My husband has insisted over and over that we definitely don’t need an elf and has praised my resistance so far.

This year, though, I was ready for the elf. It was on my list of things to purchase for the holiday season. My two oldest sons came home from school, excited that an elf had appeared in each of their classrooms immediately after Thanksgiving.

“Would you guys like me to let Santa know we’re ready for an elf at our house this year?” I asked enthusiastically.

But my oldest son shut me down with a panicked NO!

He was quick to list his varied reasons for why he didn’t want an elf in the house. Although he enjoyed searching for the one in his classroom each day, he didn’t want one watching him and reporting back to Santa. He didn’t want it to make messes in our house. He didn’t want his one year old brother to accidentally touch it and make it lose its magic. He didn’t want to be tempted to touch it himself. 

I tried to convince him otherwise– our elf wouldn’t have to report to Santa, I said. He could just hang out at our house and have fun with us until Christmas. He wouldn’t be watching or judging. He didn’t have to get messy. We’d tell him to always hide somewhere high up so little hands couldn’t touch him, accidentally or otherwise. But my son was adamant. It was clear that the idea of our own elf was stressing him out.

So even though I would love to have an elf, I’m respecting my son’s wishes and not bringing one into our home this year. It’s disappointing to me because I want this creative outlet and memories for myself, but not at the cost of my son’s peace of mind. I’ve already got my fingers crossed for next year, though, when you can bet I’ll be asking again!

Erica Tran
Erica lives in Kenner with her husband Michael and her three sons, Benjamin, Joshua, and Elijah. After graduating from UL Lafayette with a degree in advertising and landing her dream job, she left her chosen field and now works part time as an administrative assistant for a Catholic retreat movement. She spends the rest of her time at home with her boys, finding lost toys and actively ignoring various messes. In 2019, she self-published her first book, The Sister. There's not a lot of free time between working, reading and writing, and chasing her kids, but in those moments she's usually sprawled on the sofa in casual denial about just how messy her house is.


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