I am one of those Elf on the Shelf Moms that people make fun of online (but never to my face...hmmmm, I wonder why? Could they secretly be jealous of the time I have to spend with my child?). I love the look of utter joy on my young daughter's face when her Elf, "Blue", shows up for the holiday season; and the excitement with which she bounds out of bed every morning to look for him. Unfortunately, "Madison's" joy turned to horror a few days before Christmas when she woke to discover that our basset hound "Barney" had gotten a hold of Blue and turned him into a chew toy. Blue's destruction was complete - torn limbs, puncture marks, the whole nine yards. Blue now sits in a shoe-box while I decide what to do with his remains.
Madison's Christmas was spoiled by the destruction of her dear, sweet Elf; and she has spent the last few days angry with Barney, calling him a "bad dog" every time she sees him. Barney is not a bad dog; in fact, it is my fault for putting Blue on a low shelf where Barney could reach him. My daughter is only six-years-old, and I do not wish to use this experience to discuss death with her; but I don't know what else I can do to give her the closure she so obviously needs. Also, I would like to continue our Elf on the Shelf tradition next year; but I am not certain she will warm up to a new Elf, considering the traumatic fate of this one. I have considered taking Madison to a child psychologist to discuss her feelings, but my husband says that if I go that far than I am the one who "needs to get their head examined". He suggests we let bygones be bygones and just get a new Elf. We agreed to seek the advice of a neutral third party, and I was going to write to the advice columnist in my local newspaper when a friend showed me your column. So here I am, writing to you for advice. Please help.
As a cat, I love small things that move around - like the Elf on the Shelf - so I can see why your Barney decided that Blue was a good choice of playmate. I can also understand how your daughter would be upset over the loss of her beloved Elf; however, to equate its loss with human death is taking things a tad too far, to put it mildly. Children are resilient, and with a little creativity you can continue this lovely tradition with Madison while at the same time teaching her forgiveness (for the sake of the dog).
Since Madison believes that the Elf is magical, I think you should work from there. Start by writing a letter to Madison from Blue, telling her that he returned to Santa's North Pole Workshop a few days early so he could recover from his wrestling match with Barney. Have Blue apologize for giving her such a scare; but boys will be boys and he just couldn't resist a tussle with the dog! Tell her he hopes that he didn't hurt Barney too badly, and that his fur will cover any bruises he may have given the dog.
Come February or March, write another letter to Madison from her Elf. In the letter, have Blue tell Madison that he has "completely recovered" from his wrestling match with Barney, and with the help of Santa's magic and a good plastic surgeon he bears not a single scar. Also mention that Mrs. Claus sewed him a brand new outfit to replace the one he damaged while playing (you can also mention that he was scolded for ruining his good Elf outfit).
Now, for the most important step in this whole plan: Buy a new Elf on the Shelf for next year and let Madison think that Blue has returned, as good as new. As she grows older, the magic of the Elf will fade for Madison, but the memories you create for her - and the lessons you teach - will remain.
P.S. I don't think people are jealous of the time you get to spend with your child; just tired of the pressure put upon them to be what society deems "perfect" parents.
Big thanks to People I Want to Punch In the Throat for writing and posting the funniest "Elf hater" essay ever! TK