The Elf on the Shelf







I had heard this phrase but confess to not knowing what it meant.  Having just listened to a CBC radio item on this ” toy” “surveillance agent”, call it what you will, I admit to a feeling of repugnance at the very idea.  Doesn’t anybody distain tattle-tales any more?  The premise is that parents can put this toy on a shelf, it observes a child’s conduct during the run up to Christmas and day-by-day it reports back to Santa as to whether the child had been ” good” or not.  The child is told that the elf goes back to the North Pole every night and squeals on him or her.  George Orwell must be nodding sagely in his grave.   Of course, any child of intelligence and spirit  would simply destroy this bizarre control tool as soon as Mum and Dad’s backs were turned, but, seems the grown ups have thought of that.  One of the ” rules” is that the child is not allowed to touch the elf.  Such an attempt at liberation is the worst offence of all.  Can this really be considered a toy?  Oh, well, I suppose one could look at it as a preparation for a life of observation by surveillance cameras in stores, parking lots, government buildings and even the public street.  It is the responsibility of parents to train children and to judge with fairness and kindness as to whether their actions warrant discipline or not.  Lying to them and enforcing often poorly defined standards of ” niceness” by means of an inanimate object sound like . . .. . something other than parenting.  Of course, the most serious flaw in this arrangement is the undermining of the ultimate authority of Santa who has no need of man-made minions.  He is all-knowin, all-seeing, benevolent -or am I confusing him with another beloved figure who makes an appearance at Christmas.