That Darn Elf on the Shelf…

I didn’t want to get an Elf on the Shelf. I thought it was creepy, and I don’t really want my kids growing up to feel like it’s OK to have someone spying on them and reporting them to some authority figure.

Also, let’s face it. The whole concept involves a lot of work for the parent. You have to come up with some creative ideas (or, you know, look stuff up on Pinterest), make sure you have all the supplies to do the prank, take the time to carry out the prank, then clean up the whole mess that the “Elf” created.

Seriously, who has time for that?

Apparently, a whole lot of people.

With both kids in school now, it seems that the whole world is buzzing about that damn Elf. And of course, my kids wanted one.

I kept deflecting until this one perfect day.

I had been suckered into planning this school event. It was a lot of work, and the day of the event had finally arrived. This meant that I had to load the kids into the car as soon as they got off the bus, hit the McDonald’s drive-thru, and head back to the school to set up the event. Once there, I’d be crazy-busy setting up and running the event. Their papa would come later to take the kids around, but mostly, I needed them to be good.

They were possibly more well-behaved than they’d ever been.

They ate their dinner while I ran back out to the car. They practiced games with the volunteers while I continued to set up. They enjoyed the event with their dad, then chose to stay for prizes and clean up. My son won a prize and my daughter didn’t. Even though she was very disappointed, she handled it well.

At the end of the night, I was so incredibly proud of their behavior that I decided that I would go to the store and get an Elf while they were at school the next day.

That was my first mistake.

Once they were in bed, I started looking up where I could buy it. That’s when I discovered that the fucking thing is $30. What the heck, right? I looked everywhere, and there’s like, some serious price control going on. There are no stores selling it for less than $30, and you can’t use any coupons that you’d normally be able to use.

So the next day, I went on an Elf hunt. I knew that they had the $30 one at Target, but I wasn’t going to head there first. I hit up two different thrift stores. I went to TJ Maxx, where they did have a knockoff for less money, but it clearly wasn’t the same thing.

Dejected, I headed over to Target, planning to suck it up and buy the $30 toy.

To my surprise, I found that there was a cheaper “plushie” version. It was only $12 and not quite as creepy as the original Elf. It didn’t come with the book, but fuck that, right?

So I looked at the “boy” and “girl” version of it, decided that the girl one was a little bit less creepy, and triumphantly returned home with it.

I set it up in the bathroom with a little note about how the kids had been so good the night before that Santa had decided to send Her along (though I didn’t mention that it was a girl).

The kids come home from school and head into the bathroom to wash their hands. I hear screams of joy and rush out like I have no idea what could possibly be going on. My daughter is holding the Elf and jumping up and down so I start jumping up and down.

It was a great big hullabaloo, and I was so happy that I had done it.

Of course, that didn’t last.

See, I’m not really that into the Elf, and my daughter’s just in first grade, so all she really knows is that there’s an Elf and he watches you and talks to Santa and does funny things.

But my son is in fourth grade, so he’s got the full scoop. The full scoop that Mommy doesn’t know. Apparently, you’re not supposed to touch the Elf or his magic goes away. And my daughter’s sitting there hugging it and rocking it.

So he starts throwing a giant fit about how touching it is against the rules and my daughter starts throwing a giant fit about how she wants to be holding it and it’s not fair if she can’t hold it and I start screaming that maybe our Elf is different and doesn’t go by the rules.

Then we read the letter, but nobody is really happy at this time. The letter says that we have to give the Elf a name.

My son wants to call the Elf “Bob”. It’s apparently some sort of fourth grade joke to use the name Bob whenever you have to name something. Or some equally boring White Guy name. (Sorry to all the Bobs out there.)

My daughter swears up and down that it’s a girl, and she wants to give it a name like “Elfarina” or “Elfarella”.

But we have to get in the car to go to gymnastics, so the fight has to continue in there.

While driving, I point out that a lot of people give the Elf a name that has to do with winter or Christmas like “Tinsel” or “Jingle” so I start throwing out names that are in that vein. Of course, they can’t agree on anything. They did sort of both like Rudolph, but I was steering them away from that because Rudolph is the reindeer, not an Elf.

Periodically, though, my son re-starts the fight about whether or not you can touch the Elf and what will happen if you do. He’s really against this touching the Elf business. I’m thinking he’s kind of ridiculous because he’s not a True Believer and he knows damn well that Mommy is the one who’s going to move the Elf around.

They also keep arguing over whether it’s a boy or a girl Elf. My son thinks it’s a boy; daughter thinks it’s a girl. I also think it’s a girl because I saw the other one in the store (There’s a twist to this, so wait for it…), but I’m not weighing in on this debate.

The boy finishes gymnastics, and we get back in the car to resume our arguments over the Elf’s name, the Elf’s gender, and whether or not you should be able to touch the Elf. For a full 30 minutes.

When we get home, the kids rush in to tell their father that the Elf has arrived. They explain a little bit about it because he’s from Japan and doesn’t really know about weird American things like this. But mostly, they’re fighting because my daughter is holding the Elf and my son says that’s against the rules.

This is totally the hill he’s going to die on.

Luckily, I realize what’s really going on. I don’t want to go into the whole background or anything like that, but basically, there’s sibling rivalry issues, and he’s feeling like she always gets the best things. When she gets to hold and love the Elf, it becomes more HER Elf and not THEIR Elf.

I whisper to my son that I’ll get a second Elf and he feels better. I also told him that the one we have is a girl, but I will get the boy one.

They go to bed. It’s a late night, but I head out to get another Elf.

I run to Target, where earlier that morning they had several of these plushie Elves. It’s like 10:30 at night and the place closes at 11. They are totally out of plushie Elves.

Are you fucking kidding me?

I go across the shopping plaza to Kohls. I find a section of Elf on the Shelf stuff. They’ve got the $30 one with the book (coupons not applicable because of the authoritarian price controlling of these dumb things), and the new Elf on the Shelf animals – for $25 – and I can see on the sign that they should have the plushies, but I don’t see any.

I desperately walk around the store, thinking that there might be another display or that someone might possibly have changed their mind about the plushie Elf and set it down in the linen department.

I go up to the customer service department to ask if they are showing any in stock. I know that they’re judging me as I tell my story thinking “What type of spoiled brats must she have if they can’t share the Elf?”

But they have none.

I get in my car and call Walmart. They also don’t have any.

I head home.

Once home, I use my computer to check Target’s site. They show that they have some available at the Target that’s a little farther. It’s closed now, so can order it for pickup the next day.

But y’all…I’ve realized I made a big mistake.

See, I simply compared the two different Elves I saw and thought that the cuter, less creepy looking one was the girl. Actually, they’re labeled. The one that I bought was the boy, and the other one was a girl. Knowing this, I order the girl, then I set up the Elf for the night along with a note about how his/her best friend is coming the next day and how he/she knows that the kids were trying to decide if it was a boy or girl, but they’d soon be able to find out.

In the morning, when my son woke up, I quickly told him that I had tried to get another Elf and couldn’t find one, but that I’d ordered it and would be picking it up while he was at school. He seemed satisfied.

I was supposed to get an email message telling me that the pickup was ready, but it hadn’t come by morning. I had a PTSA meeting all morning, then just headed out to Target without checking my email. I have an old-fashioned phone that doesn’t check my email.

At Target, I wait in line a good 10 minutes for customer service. It’s Christmas shopping time, so it’s pretty busy. The worker can’t find my order. She tells me that the order was cancelled for some reason. She says that it was canceled at 10:30pm the night before, which is impossible because I placed the order after 11.

No worries, though. I ask if they have the girl plushie in the store. She says that they do, and she goes back to get it for me. I spend another awkward 10 minutes waiting while the line gets bigger and there’s only one other customer service rep to help the people.

The woman comes back with the damn $30 version, asking if that’s the one that I wanted.


I explain that it isn’t. That I was looking for the cheaper plushie version. And that I wanted a girl one. Instead of sending her back for it, I just decide to head back there myself.

To my absolute horror, I discover that there’s only one plushie left and it’s the same (boy) one I already have. After I’ve made a big deal out of how the kids would be able to tell if the Elf was a boy or girl.

I grab that one, then grab a set of skirts that’s intended for the $30 Elf. I go back to wait in the long line because I want to see if they’ll let me see if the skirt fits the plushie one as well, which sort of sucks because otherwise, I’d be able to get into any of the other lines.

They do let me try the skirt on. It fits the doll. Rejoice.

Except that I’ve now paid *over* $30 for these two Elves and a skirt.

I suppose that’s OK because probably if I had started out by getting the $30 one, I still would have had problems with the kids fighting over the Elf. And if I had one that was $30, I definitely would have pushed harder to have my son just suck it up.

Kids get home from school, find boy and girl Elves, my daughter just shrugs and says, “I was wrong. The other one was a boy.” And nobody’s fighting over whether or not you can touch them.

I should be happy, right?

Except that my life can’t really be that easy.

I mean…I still had to do all of that setting up funny Elf stuff that I had originally wanted to avoid. Every night, it would be 11:30, and I’d be almost ready for bed, but then I’d remember that I had to do it and I’d be franticly searching Pinterest for “easy Elf on the Shelf ideas”.

One time, I forgot to do it before my son woke up, and he had to help me set something up so that it would be ready when his sister woke up.

One time, I was rushing to do it in the morning when my daughter surprised me so I yelled (not really at her, but it still hurt her feelings), and then she was saying, “Mommy…why are you moving the Elves” even though I’m fairly certain that she understands the truth.

Then, apparently my daughter’s friend’s Elf does all these really awesome things while the Elves in our house are totally boring, so I had to try to up my game a bit.

When I mentioned that the Elves were going to go back to the North Pole with Santa on Christmas Eve, my daughter was devastated. She didn’t want that to happen at all. She threw several fits and I started thinking, “Oh FFS, I’m not going to have to keep doing this shit all year, am I?”

And on Christmas Eve, I almost forgot to hide them away. OMG I totally would have been stuck.

Luckily, the Elves are not as missed as I thought they might be. And Ultimately, I’m happy that we’ve brought the Elves into our home. It was fun at times, and I’m really looking forward to bringing them back out next year.

If only I could get this stupid Christmas tree down….


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