My thanks to the warden on a shelf

Published 9:20 pm Friday, December 11, 2009

I, by no means, have any more parenting knowledge than any other father out there. Depending on the age of your children, I may have less. However, after five years, I’ll offer just one piece of advice: If you don’t have an Elf on a Shelf, get one. Today.

If you’re not familiar with the concept, the Elf is basically a spy for Santa. He watches your children and makes sure they’re good.

If they’re not, he narcs them out to the big man himself.

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Prior to a few months ago, I’d never heard of one. Now, I wouldn’t be without it.

The Elf, dressed in a red jumpsuit and hat, is about the size of your hand and comes with a little children’s book that explains his or her purpose.

The child gets to name the Elf, but is not allowed to touch it. A helpful hint to those who do not know: the Elf always lands on something out of the reach of children, like a high shelf or atop a picture frame.

Lizzie’s elf is named Walter. Walter is like a warden. Much like The Captain from “Cool Hand Luke,” he will have no shenanigans.

His presence in our house this Christmas season has influenced Lizzie’s decision-making process.

You can see it run across her mind: “What would Walter do?”

Walter flies from room to room. Every day, when Lizzie gets home from school, she looks for him. Every night, before she goes to bed, Lizzie looks for him, again.

She likes to know where he is at all times.

Whenever Lizzie enters a room where Walter is perched, she makes eye contact with him, kind of like how two gunslingers make eye contact in old those Clint Eastwood movies before one of them gets dealt with.

The thing I most like about Walter is that, much like Santa Claus, he sees and knows all.

And what Walter doesn’t see, I can tell him.

Lizzie doesn’t want to do her homework?

“Let me go tell Walter,” I’ll say.

Homework problem solved.

Walter has become a mediator that we have thoroughly enjoyed having in our home. All kidding aside, it’s been fun to watch Lizzie interact with Walter, and you can tell she’s enjoyed what I’m sure is a new Christmas tradition. And just like any other Christmas tradition, all good things must come to a temporary end.

In a little more than two weeks, Walter will catch a ride back to the North Pole with Santa.

I’ve already written my letter to Santa asking that Walter be permanently reassigned to my house, but my expectations are that Walter needs to report back with his other elf operatives for a debriefing and will promptly return after Thanksgiving 2010.

Jason Cannon is publisher of the Demopolis Times.