Why I don’t do Elf on the Shelf.

Today is the big day.
I know for many families this is tradition.
I know many families have a lot of fun and joy in doing it,
but for us, it’s not to be.

I feel guilty. It is a trend that everyone is following.
The stories and pictures swamp social media.
It is all the children are talking about at school.
I want to join in, follow the crowd, but we can’t.
It would cause so much anxiety.
It just wouldn’t work for us.

Imagine this.
My girl is at home.
A place where she feels safe, a place that is familiar, a place that is her own.
Her home. Her space.
A place with familiar people.
A place of routine…..of little change.
Then all of a sudden I introduce this Elf into our house.

This elf, who we haven’t warned her about, as that would ruin the surprise.
This elf, who is allowed to touch anything of hers, but she cannot touch him.
This elf, who can get up to all sorts of mischief, but she is not allowed to.
This elf, who, if you touch it, will lose all of it’s magic.
This elf, who if you are naughty, will tell Santa and you won’t get your presents.

My extremely literal, extremely anxious girl would not cope with it….at all.
Christmas brings about too much change already.

Imagine if she touched it……because she would.
She definitely would.
To her, Christmas would be ruined.
The magic would be gone.
She is so literal, she wouldn’t be able to see through it.
She would believe she would get no presents.
If you touch him, the magic is gone.
End of.

She would panic, have a meltdown, she just wouldn’t understand why the magic would be gone.
She would touch him just to see……but there would be nothing to see.
She does not understand cause and effect fully. The idea is still new.
She would cause an argument with herself because she knows she will get presents, but she has been told she wouldn’t.
But who do we know that have not had presents because they touched the elf?
She just wouldn’t…..couldn’t…..understand the whole concept of it.

Because she has Autism.

She is so literal and the book has just told her that the magic would go.
Her mind is black and white. Magic or not?
How would I reassure her? How would I explain that the magic wouldn’t really be gone?
How would I maintain it for her brother?

I couldn’t.

I would have to tell her that the Elf isn’t real.

The story is that the Elf is Santa’s spy, making sure the children are being good girls and boys.
If the Elf isn’t real…..how do I explain Santa?
It would ruin Christmas.
My girl doesn’t ‘understand’ Father Christmas.
She doesn’t get how he delivers toys, where he gets them from.
But she believes.
She doesn’t understand it but she believes.

We sprinkle reindeer food on the grass, we leave Santa milk and cookies and a carrot for Rudolph.
She believes.
I don’t want to risk that she may start to question Father Christmas.
I don’t want to lose the magic.

The Elf is naughty.
He comes in your house, he makes a mess,
But we can’t question his actions because he belongs to Santa.
Are we saying it is ok to cause chaos and not tell him off because Santa is his boss, because he is someone important?
He is supposed to be encouraging the children to be good, but spends his time up to all kinds of mischief.
He then reports back to Santa that my girl may have thrown a remote control, refused to brush her teeth, not done her homework…
Hypocritical?

What is that teaching our children?
What is that teaching my girl who struggles to see the world for what it is already?
What social skills is that teaching her?

I am not sure about the the whole thing and I am certainly sticking to the basics at home.
Santa and his elves make the presents and deliver them on Christmas Eve in his sleigh.
His elves are busy little magical beings in his workshop making toys.

Elf on the shelf doesn’t come to my house because my children already know that Santa can see everything.
I am not adding even more anxiety to my girl.
Autism is happy with Christmas just as it is.

Mostly, I am tired.
Autism isn’t.
Most nights we are up with My Girl.
I just don’t have the energy to maintain the pretence or deal with the consequences!

Christmas is magical time.
Father Christmas, the reindeers, the sleigh…the stories children tell about their visions of santas workshop, the grotto, of Lapland.
Christmas is not about teaching our children to be good just to get presents.

My childrens enjoyment comes from the christmas crafting, the decorating of the tree, choosing gifts for the family, baking christmas goodies, the advent calendars, my boy enjoys the countdown to christmas.
This is enough.
Santa is more than enough.
There are far too many concepts for my girl to understand already.

For all you Elf on the Shelfers reading, please enjoy it.
Post your pictures and your stories for all to see.
It is just not for me.
It is just not for Our Autism.

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