I have a dear friend who raised a child similar to mine. Her son is now a grown man, but the stories we swap about Michael and Brynna prove they are cut from the same cloth. And that cloth is brightly colored, bedazzled and lined with bells. Cherry tells me often she’s going to write a book about how different parenting kids with a flair for the dramatic is. It has to be. And I don’t just mean you have to keep earplugs on hand. I mean you can’t discipline, teach or relate to them in black and white. They see the world in technicolor. It’s a lesson I learn and relearn every few
months weeks days.
Most recently, I learned it via the Elf on the Shelf.
Last year, David and I made a decision about Christmas. In an effort to keep the holidays focused on the birth of Jesus instead of the new Barbie movie someone in our house was obsessed with, we chose not to do Elf on the Shelf. It wasn’t some crazy religious thing. It was just a simplicity thing – removing an unnecessary distraction. Santa still visits our house but he’s not the main attraction, so we didn’t want to add to the confusion by promoting the idea of magical flying creatures hiding in our home each night. Brynna asked about it, but we breezed past the topic and in her typical, ADD-like fashion she quickly moved on to something else.
This year, she started asking for an elf in October. She’s seen it in stores, on tv and heard her friends talk about it. She remembers the one year the elf visitied when we lived in Virginia. (She can’t remember the school she went to but she can recant every place the elf hid that year…) I was still concerned about confusing the meaning of Christmas, but then I heard Cherry’s reminder again in my mind. “Artistic kids see the world differently than other people.” For Brynna, the Elf on the Shelf is as magical as mermaids and as real as the Disney princesses. And to take that away from her would be to ask her to see the world differently. It would soften some of the technicolor of her personality. That would make her not her. And that would break my heart.
So dramatic kids call for dramatic measures. The Elf on the Shelf returned to our home a few days ago. He finds a new hiding place each night and it is of utmost importance no one touch him. He could lose his magic so by george, you better keep your hands to yourself. We also have an advent calendar counting down the days to Christmas. So each morning when Brynna finds Ruby the elf, she’s holding a token with a Bible verse. BG runs to get her Bible and we read the verse for the day. Today we learned that when the angel told Mary she would become pregnant, she was instructed to name her son Jesus.
Imaginary friends, magical elves and neon socks are who Brynna is. I never want to change that, and it’s my job to protect it. Volume control, however, is a necessary part of life. I have to teach one without ruining the other. I have to teach her to respect others AND be the creative person she is. I have to encourage her imagination to soar AND teach her that regardless of what the world suggests, there is absolute truth. I have to join in the hunt for an elf each morning AND prepare Bible verse tokens each night.
Dramatic kids call for dramatic measures. That means I have to work a little harder. Because I have one. dramatic. kid…and I want to keep her just like that!