I made the insidious mistake of going public proclaiming the health and peace of my children and family. The day I posted this bit of glorious news, was the day sickness slammed into the front door of our home like an uninvited, unwanted obnoxious guest. It has continued to dwell here and spray its hideous bacteria through the ears, lungs, sinuses, eyes and even tummies of my poor chronically sick kids. The Christmas greetings I so hoped to put together during the minute of wondrous glee did not get sent.
After a beautiful Thanksgiving Holiday feast and visit from our cherished and beloved family, the earth decided to open up and suck us in once again. As the kids were fevering and coughing and snotting and whining and crying, my husband and I decided to start the long awaited (bought on clearance last year) “ELF ON THE SHELF” book I found packed in our Christmas decorations! Time to open up a world of wonder and delight for our children! It may be late, but my eight year old believes in all that is special, magic and mystical. I think she will believe in it all until she is 18. The Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and Santa are all still alive and well in her world! I plan on taking down the kid who pinches a hole in that beautiful pure spirit that surrounds her heart and soul. I start getting agitated just thinking about the day she comes home with her desperate heartache, crying “Mommy! Tommy said there is no Santa!!!! How could he say that???”
Look out Tommy.
So the Elf on the Shelf book was a hit! The kids were filled with newfound wonder and excitement and had tons of questions. We explained that the elf couldn’t come here until my son was old enough (5 being the lucky number!) and both were sold on the entire “program”. (thanks to my hubby for the great idea!) It was a new magical mystery added to our Holiday Season! The kids were squealing and running around the house looking for the Elf. I had put it on the mantle earlier that day, while putting up the Christmas decorations, hoping the elf spotting would be as magical as his story.
Here’s how this played out:
Daughter finds the elf on the mantle and starts to meltdown…
“OH NO!!! I TOUCHED THE ELF EARLIER!! I SAW IT AND I TOUCHED IT! NOW IT HAS NO MAGICAL POWER!!! NO NO NO NO!!!” (Sobbing hysterically…)
“Okay, now calm down honey! It’s okay! Really! The elf hadn’t started his magic powers until we read the book! Now calm down…it’s okay!” (My daughter goes into full-blown asthma attack…breathing treatment given and an hour later she starts to calm down.)
Midnight: Coughing and snotting and crying and fevering, the kids are nestled all snug in their beds…well, one is in bed trying to sleep and the other is still up coughing up the demon daggers within. She was a mess, and I knew she would be up all night with this asthmatic flare.
How will we move the elf? My husband decides to go ahead and put the elf up on the hutch so that it peaks down on the living room. My daughter comes downstairs needing help and crying because of her cough as I motion desperately for my husband to take the elf down and run it back to its original place… still too early to move the Elf now! He needs to be ‘awaiting his trip to the North Pole’ on the mantle.
I bring my daughter back upstairs to my bed and lay with her while the asthma continues to roar in her lungs. I tell her I will be back andI go downstairs and strategize with my husband…at some point we need to move the elf and make him “disappear” then re-appear the next morning, as we know she will wander the home through the night, in her asthma despair.
Meanwhile, during our planning meeting in the basement, my daughter floated downstairs looking for me and spotted the elf…
“The Elf is still here mommy. I thought he went to the North Pole to report to Santa? Why didn’t he leave? He LOST HIS MAGIC!!!!”
“No honey, he’s just waiting for you to go to sleep, so he can leave.”
“But I can’t sleep mommy! He’ll NEVER get to go!!
“Well, maybe he will stay to watch out for you tonight…we’ll see.”
After several failed attempts to get to the Elf, amidst the long and treacherous asthmatic night…up and down the stairs, flying back and forth….I give up. The elf is now in the drawer hiding…
“MOMMY, MOMMY!!!! (Comes running down hysterical….) I am scared! I don’t like the Elf. I don’t know where he is and he is alive and its scaring me. (She continues to cough like crazy…snotting and crying and fevering)”
“Oh honey, it’s a magical good Elf and he won’t hurt you!”
I look at my husband and we give each other that ‘look’…the look that says: “What the heck were we thinking doing this damn stupid Christmas Elf??!” knowing full well, we embarked on what would be a lovely and fun filled tradition in any normal home….just not ours.
She notices the Elf if gone.
“MOMMY!!! THE ELF IS GONE!!!! IT LEFT FOR THE NORTH POLE!!!! I hope it doesn’t get too wet in the rain! I wonder when it left! Do you think it will tell Santa about my cough?”
“Oh my! He did leave didn’t he? Well I’m sure he will report everything to Santa honey…now lets try to calm that cough down as best we can….(breathing treatment again)”
Now let me take you upstairs and try to get you comfortable. I know you can’t sleep but you need rest so at least try, okay? ( I need to get the damn Elf put in a new place!)
3:00 am. Daughter has been down again and stayed down on the couch with non-stop earth pounding cough. Nights are the worst…
When will I ever get it back on the shelf by morning if she is down here all night????
4:00am. Daughter still up with asthma and mama is crumbling under pressure about the damn Elf. If I end up falling asleep in the wee hours of the morning, how will the Elf appear? I know she will be up all night. I stay down with her and lie on the couch listening to her cough violently, as my heart aches and tightens with every spasm in her lungs. I get her the bowl to throw up in. I check her temperature and get her water and rub her back and hold her and lay back down on the couch to listen to her drama unfold into the deep dark night.
Gotta get that Elf…
Startled by my son screaming upstairs, I run up to find him crying, coughing and wandering around in my bedroom! I carry him back to his room and try to calm him down and wipe his face and change his pillowcase (drenched in fever sweat) etc etc etc.
Go back down to be with daughter, with that Elf still lingering in my tired discouraged mind.
If there is one thing I know about my kids, it’s this. They believe. They dream. And they live for the magic moments in their life. I intended to make this happen…
This Elf WILL APPEAR… this damn Elf.
My daughter and I ended up in my bedroom upstairs at some point in the wee hours of the morning, while my husband slept soundly in the guest room with the fan going on high so as to drown out the horrific asthmatic thunder. He awoke and placed the Elf in the perfect spot for the kids to find. Thank God.
Both kids staring wide-eyed at the little critter up hiding in the china hutch…
“Lets name it ‘little elf’! NO! ‘Kris’!!! NO! How about ‘Little Kris’?? YEAH!!! Hey Little Kris, did you get wet last night? Did you know that I really want superhero powers? Little Kris, this is our home! See here? These are ornaments on our tree and these are our toys and by the way, I really want Barbie for Christmas! Little Chris, how did you become an Elf?? How do you get to the North Pole? You are so cute but you don’t look real! Is that a price tag mommy? Hey Little Kris! This is where we play a lot. You see my cars? You see my toys? MOMMY! LOOK AT LITTLE KRIS!!!!”
The kids talked to the Elf for an hour and spent the day checking on him every other minute amidst the coughing, the snotting, the fevering, the whining and the crying. The day was filled with all the magic and mystery and wonder. That night, they shared excitement about finding the elf in a new spot the next morning, as they continued to cough and snot and fever and whine and cry… another long night ahead.
And another magical, mysterious and wondrous night for that damn elf.