Disclaimer: If you think the “Elf on the Shelf” is the greatest thing since sliced bread- then beat it sucker- this post ain’t for you. If you’re a relatively new parent and considering purchasing an Elf on the Shelf- then let this post serve as fair warning. And for those of you like me that have stuff to do, I don’t know, like earn a living…you’ll appreciate this (I hope).
It all started out so innocently about 7 years ago. My eldest was a lonely only and just 3 years old. I was still bathed in the hope that I could be the mother I always longed to have; create cute family traditions, wear an apron and greet my children with cookies and milk when they got home from school. Ahh…what a fool I was. I don’t know why I thought the fact that a child had grown in my womb would somehow change my crass and cynical personality. But, when your little one is still just being naughty by not eating her peas, or saying no all the time, you somehow think you can still achieve the unattainable.
The most wonderful time of the year was swiftly approaching and I was starting to feel the anxiety of creating the best Norman Rockwell holiday season for my small family. My boss lady/dear friend and I were having lunch at a beautiful gourmet restaurant, surrounded by the city’s most fashionable. I was telling her of the trials and tribulations of the terrible 3’s (the terrible twos are just a myth- created by someone who couldn’t find some good alliteration to go with the number 3). And then she so kindly offered some friendly advice that she had just learned of from a friend of hers: The Elf on the Shelf! It was the latest and greatest parenting tool that you could only find in the most elite boutiques. The Elf would magically appear just after Thanksgiving and then keep an eye on your little ones and report back to Santa. An easy peasy way of getting your little ones to behave- right? Wrong!! Mind you, she’d never done this with her own child, who was practically grown at this point, so she was blind to the terrible horrors she was about to unleash into my life.
For those of you unfamiliar with this little demon spawn, let me explain. You (the parent) are supposed to read a cutey patootie booksie about a cutey patootie elfie that the jolly fat guy himself has somehow sent to your house – but don’t tell your friends because they might not be as special as you and have their own private elf. Each night after your little one is so sweetly tucked into bed… after fifteen trips to the bathroom, 47 bedtime stories and 75 billion other excuses for not sleeping….you’re supposed to REMEMBER to go move the fucking elf to a different location. Then, oh what fun, when they wake up each morning they get to search the house to find this little motherfucker hanging out somewhere.
Well, soon word began to spread, the elf was no longer available exclusively in high end boutiques. Every fucking card shop, drug store and convenience store was selling these little shitbirds. And soon, moving the little fucker- which I could barely remember to do anyway, was no longer good enough. Pictures were popping up on Facebook with the elf getting into mischief, eating cookies and spilling milk, taking a shit on the toilet, or tearing up long rolls of toilet paper. What the fuck?? I thought this little shit was supposed to make my kids behave by reporting back to Santa- not SHOW my kids how to misbehave. And besides all that, I can barely remember to move the blessed thing each night to a new location- much less give him creative activities. You know who has to clean that shit up?? Me- that’s who!! Like I need one more thing to do in my life.
And how many times, have my children asked forlornly, “Look mommy, the elf is in the same place as yesterday. Do you think he forgot to go see Santa?” The answer is too many to count. Fuck- knife to my heart- just one more item to add to my long list of parenting failures. “Oh no, sweetheart, I think he just found that spot so comfy he decided to go back to the same place.” Yeah, they only buy that lie one time- but when you’ve forgotten for 3 or more nights in a row, well let’s just say the magic starts to wear off. Even they stop looking for him- the bastard.
Now, I know, I have a lot of very talented friends. They love to post cute things their little elf is doing around the house on Pinterest and Facebook. Some of them even find time to move the little motherfucker several times a day. I’m happy for them that they get such a kick out of tricking their children and creating more work for themselves. But, stop making the rest of us losers feel bad.
And on top of it all, I’m now hearing that having one elf is not good enough. Oh no…-you must have an elf for each of your children so they can take it with them when they’re grown and shove this beautiful, consumer-driven tradition down the throats of their own little ones.
Today is the day after Thanksgiving, and I’m going to have to have that little shit show up sooner or later. I look forward to the days when my children can look back and laugh- or perhaps they’ll just be crying in therapy. Either way, at least I won’t have to move the fucking elf anymore.