While everyone is busy getting into the spirit of the holiday season the usual ways, Utah dad Alan Lawrence is getting creative.
When it comes to parenting, there’s a stereotype that moms tend to handle their kids with a bit more poise and finesse than the dads; a belief that’s no doubt supported by the hundreds of thousands of posts on social media where dads appear to be utterly clueless around their sons and daughters, and of course, the hilarious stunts they pull off while the wife isn’t looking.
However, Utah father of six Alan Lawrence is not your run-of-the-mill dad. An art director and web designer by trade, Lawrence is also a skilled photographer and videographer who manages to turn the normally mundane photoshoots with his kids into creative and fun pieces of art. Despite juggling six kids and a job, he still manages to find the time to update his That Dad Blog monthly with the work he has been up to in the past month.
As November and Thanksgiving roll around every year, most are already beginning to get into the Christmas spirit. Every convenience store and mall have Christmas jingles, snow-themed attractions, grant-a-wish Santa Clauses and numerous other paraphernalia. Though enjoyable at first, they do eventually begin to get on your nerves, and it was no different for Lawrence; except, he didn’t get annoyed at the usual Christmas nuisances.
Ever since 2005 saw the release of the enormously viral Elf on the Shelf children’s picture book, families around both the U.S and around the world have been partaking in a tradition of having toy elves all around their home; the story being that as Christmas neared, these elves would then relay to Santa who made the ‘nice’ and ‘naughty’ list in every home. Lawrence noticed that his neighbors and relatives had these moving elf contraptions at their homes and decided to give his own little twist to the practice.
He was quoted telling Today: «All of our friends do the Elf on the Shelf and I’ve always thought it was sort of creepy, but sort of fun — this idea of an elf coming to live in your home and moving around to different places. And I’m like, what if it was a real elf? And of course, being parents, we already have the cutest little 4-month-old. So we decided to make a fun series.»
So began the process of converting his 4-month-old son Rockwell into a real-life, moving elf. His wife took a quick trip to the fabric store, sewed up a costume for their little angel, and they were up and running. Every photo seems immaculately shot with the perfect timing, but Lawrence admits to using a cheat: he first poses with his son for the photos and then edits himself out.
He soon wrote up a blog post on his website with all the cute pictures he managed to capture and plans to update it all the way until Christmas. His photoshoot went viral and he says he’s thrilled with the overwhelmingly positive response he’s been getting. He said: «It’s funny because I thought, I’m sure someone has done this before,» Lawrence added. «But everyone is responding and mentioning a friend to say, ‘Hey, you should do this with Sally!’ or talking about doing it with their own kids.»
Normally, 4-month-olds are unruly and fidgety, but Lawrence says that Rockwell was more than happy to play along. «He’s just a good-natured kid. He’ll be laughing and looking up at me, exactly what we need for the shot. It’s almost like he knows what we’re trying to accomplish,» he said.
The mischievous elf has been all around the house: he’s spied on his dad attempting to take a shower, he’s TP’d the Christmas tree, he’s been caught sneaking sips from the syrup bottle, playing connect four with the local fauna, and many other delightful situations.
This is not Lawrence’s first experience with virality. Back in 2015, he became known on the internet for his photo shoot with his second youngest son, William, who had Down’s syndrome. The photos showed his then-two-year-old son ‘flying’ through beautiful scenery, with the dad saying that the project was a way for him to prove that even kids with Down’s syndrome can live magical lives.
He admitted to Today that he was ashamed he once thought his new son would be a burden to his family because of his disability. He said: «This project is a way for us to show how much our son has blessed our family. He’s not a burden, he hasn’t limited us. He’s opened the door to so many new things, to new experiences.»
Lawrence said that his other children learned a lot from William and hopes that his son’s story encourages parents who are worried about raising a baby with Down’s syndrome. «It’s information people need to know, but we also want the good, inspiring, happy messages of how these kids give back to the world to rise above that. That’s the hope,» he continued.