He said he'd be back. And he is.

No, not Arnold Schwarzenegger. Elf on the Shelf.

Yes, Santa's little helper in the red outfit is back in my house to keep an eye on 3 1/2-year-old Andrew and 19-month-old Jack.

Last year I told you about how Elf works. Quick summary. He helps Santa watch over your children, reporting back each night to say if they have been naughty or nice. Every morning he returns to a different spot in the house. He's a great supervisor parent but doesn't do diapers, and says goodbye on Christmas Eve until next year.

Caught up? Good. So here's how things are going in the Adam home with the extra set of eyes to try and keep our children in check.

This year Andrew decided to name Elf something besides just "Elf." Andrew's got quite the imagination and loves to make up weird names for things. However, he actually made an a real name, even if by accident.

"KENO!" he proclaimed the night the elf returned.

I had a Keno Sultan on my staff at my old newspaper, so I guess this name was in honor of him. Never mind that little Andrew never met Keno and said he just pulled the name out of thin air.

"Keno" has been much more adventurous this year when it comes to watching over our children. Last year, he tended to stay in the living room, kitchen, Andrew's room and the hallways connecting those rooms. This year, boy, you never know where he could be. Bathroom, my wife and I's room, the basement working out on the treadmill, or even in daddy's office.

I was hoping Jack, now mobile, would join in on the fun. But let's face it, any 3-year-old can run circles around any 1-year-old. And where as Andrew wakes up most mornings with the thought of hunting down Keno first thing, Jack is more an old soul. He tends to wake up, look around his room, scream for a moment, slap his music machine back on and bury his face back into a pillow. My wife says it's like watching me most mornings, sans I did out grow my music machine a few years back.

With only a few days before Christmas, Andrew has found Keno first all but two times. One of those rare Jack victories came thanks to Keno deciding to hang out in Jack's room. The odds were in Jack's favor when he only has to wake up and look around from his bed, and his brother is under strict orders not to enter Jack's room until he wakes up.

The other big difference is the attitude toward Keno the two children have. Andrew last year at 2 1/2 understood why Keno was there. You could diffuse temper tantrums by reminding him he doesn't want Keno to give a bad report to Santa.

"Oh you don't want to go to sleep? Well Keno can't leave to see Santa, and you do want those Paw Patrol toys, right?"

Andrew quickly settles down and closes his eyes (though I'd be lying if I said he went straight to sleep).

As for Jack, at 19 months, he really doesn't care about reports to Santa. Jack will smile at the amusing places the elf appears each day, but don't waste your time telling Jack to stop crying cause he might end up on the naughty list. If Jack is mad, he's going to throw his Tigger at you in disgust... (and promptly retrieve his best friend). Jack and Andrew can't share a toy? Well Andrew might give up due to Keno's watchful eyes, but not Jack.

Maybe next year.... we hope.

I am happy to report that for the most part, at least my oldest has behaved pretty well in December. So Santa should not be dropping any coal in his stocking Christmas night. Though if this past week's weather is any indication of the winter, I'd be happy for a full bag of coal to keep us all warm.

Happy Holidays.

Email: aadam@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-8475