It’s the most wonderful time of the year, which generally includes a mandatory viewing of the movie Elf. If you also have the pleasure of knowing Deanne Boesel, you may have had the opportunity of viewing it not only once, but twice every year; once during Christmas, once over the summer at the PEP program. Why would you watch Elf in June? You might ask. That would be because you are learning about the lives of TCKs, and Buddy the Elf happens to be a TCK.
Let’s start out by saying that Buddy is also adopted. This brings a lot of interesting details and insights to the story, but since we are not experts on adoption, we will leave that blog post to more qualified set of writers.
What makes Buddy a TCK? Buddy spent all of his developmental years in the North Pole, which is neither his culture (he’s a human and not really an elf) nor his parents’ (who are humans, raised by humans). Buddy grows up looking like a foreigner and thinking like a native. This explains his clothes, his way of speaking, his general outlook on life, and his sugar intake. Let's take a look at the challenges Buddy faces as a TCK, and whether he has any advantages, as well.
First, Buddy experiences major delayed adolescence. We know because he has culture shock like a child, rather than an adult. Adults notice things that are strange, or they feel awkward doing something from another culture. Kids might just do things because they feel normal or like they're OK to do. Buddy eats gum off the sidewalk, plays in the revolving door until he throws up, builds a rocking chair out of the TV stand, and pours syrup on his spaghetti without a thought as to whether these may or may not be appropriate.
Buddy also faces unresolved grief, which can happen to TCKs when they lose something or someone and never get the chance to address that sadness. This is why Buddy runs away when he realizes that his dad doesn’t want him. He lost his former home, Papa Elf, Santa Claus, and now his new family, also. These goodbyes result from making major moves and saying difficult goodbyes.
Buddy has confused allegiances. When he runs away, he doesn’t go anywhere specific. He knows he doesn’t belong in the North Pole, because he doesn’t look or feel just like an elf. He also doesn’t feel like he belongs in New York, because people have said hurtful things that point out his differences. He’s not sure where he fits in, and he doesn’t know where to go.
Does Buddy’s TCK-ness ever benefit him? Yes! TCKs tend to be good at adapting and have a broad worldview. This is why Buddy is able to help Jovie raise Christmas spirit in New York so that Santa makes it through the night delivering his presents. He tells her that “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” This is a piece of elf culture that he spreads to New York, which ultimately saves Christmas.
This year, remember that being a TCK can be hard, but good things can come out if it, as well. Happy Holidays, everyone!
Families, if you want a Christmas/TCK-themed discussion this weekend, you can try some of these questions to get you and your kids sharing your experiences with one another.
1. What is a problem that you have helped someone else solve?
2. What is a time that you felt different than everyone around you?
3. What is your favorite way to spread Christmas cheer?
4. In what ways do you feel the same as Buddy? In what ways do you feel different?
5. What has someone done or said to make you feel like you belong?