My daughter's at that age where she's caught between childhood and adolescence. Every day, I see portents of the Tween and Teendom looming ahead. And yet, there are still those sweet moments when she's just my little girl. I wasn't certain what that meant this year in terms of Santa, especially since she remarked the other evening as we were watching "Elf" that she was going to save the cards from Santa and compare his handwriting this year to next.
So when she mentioned "Clyde," her "Elf on the Shelf" from last year - wondering if he'd make an appearance again this year, I was somewhat surprised, but happily so. Evidently, she's game to play along for a little while longer. As she patiently wrote out a note to him, which she then carefully placed in her little suitcase, converted into a "bed" for him, complete with blanket and Tootsie Roll treat, I racked my brain to remember where I'd hidden the darn thing. When he didn't come Tuesday or Wednesday night, she again questioned whether I thought he'd return this year. I pointed out that it wasn't even December yet, and she agreed, "Yeah - he doesn't usually show up until December." (Apparently, having put in one previous appearance established a pattern for him.)
Last night, of course, was December 1st, and my last night with her before she returned to her Dad's for a week. So it was my only opportunity. Having learned a hard Tooth Fairy lesson a couple years ago -- namely that my child, who normally sleeps like the dead, will nevertheless awake at the slightest movement I make into her room to play fairy/elf -- I decided to get a jump on things. While she finished her homework in the family room, I, under the pretense of putting clothes away in her room, surreptitiously found the note and loosened the Tootsie Roll from its taped confinement, and uncapped the pen she'd left nearby for Clyde to check "yes" or "no" as to whether or not he was here. (There is something so sweet about 9 year old logic.) All this was done to increase the odds that I could make it in and out of her room quickly, without her awaking to catch me elving around.
I weighed the merits of going in last night or this morning and decided that, since I usually have to forcibly pry her out of bed in the morning, that was the better option. So, after I awoke and let the dog out early this a.m., I quietly approached her room and eased the door open. Creeeeaakkkk. Dang it! Need to bust out the WD-40! I held my breath, and heard no reaction from her. I softly crept into her room, holding my breath, tip-toed over to the suitcase/bed and grabbed up the pen. I heard a soft shifting behind me and froze for a few seconds. Nothing further. I leaned down to mark the check box "Yes," but realized I couldn't see jack squat in the dark. So I guessed at its approximate location, tossed the pen down and then quickly snagged the Tootsie Roll and hurried out of the room, all the while praying I wouldn't hear the dreaded, "Mom?" before I could retrieve Clyde and find a good perch for him.
Once back in my room, I stashed the Tootsie Roll in a drawer, grabbed Clyde and headed out to the family room. The tree and other decorations aren't yet up, so I finally just placed him atop the birdhouse she made which sits on her craft table. Then back to her room to wake her. It did take several calls and nudges from me to rouse her, so I'm fairly certain she was oblivious to my earlier exploits. I walked back out to the kitchen to fix her breakfast and then heard her exclaim, "Mom! Clyde came - he's here!!"
Turning back and heading down the hallway, I played my best dumb: "Clyde? Who-what?!" "Clyde - my elf! He's here!" "Ohhhhh....." I said as though I were finally catching on. "Well...where is he?" She looked around and spied him on his birdhouse. "Oh yay! I'm glad he came back!" I said. And meant it.