It's Not That Hard: Just Put the Dang Elf on a Dang Shelf, People

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In The Parent Crap, Alice Laussade chronicles life as a mom in Dallas. Worried you're screwing up your kid? Tweet questions to @thecheapbastard and she'll confirm that, yes, you're screwing up your kid.

It's Christmastime again, and if you have a toddler at home, that means it's also probably Elf On The Shelf time. If you've never heard of Elf On The Shelf, let me explain: It's a dumb thing parents do that can only end in self hate and tears.

Oh sure, Elf On The Shelf seemed like a cute idea when you bought one for your house. "We'll set him out every night, tell the kid he reports back to Santa so they'd better not be assholes, and it'll be like we've got a Christmas watchdog right in our house. Hell yeah."

But apparently, these days, simply putting the elf out on the shelf is not enough.

Parents are staging all kinds of ridiculous scenes each night as their kids sleep. The kid wakes up to find the elf in a sunshine-and-rainbows-type scene like this:

Or this:

The elves are constantly "causing mischief," like making snow angels on your floor or baking cookies in the kitchen and spilling flour everywhere. Why the hell would you screw up your house for this? Would you drop Christmas thunder on your own floor and put the elf by it and pretend he did it? Don't answer that.

And this is just the tip of the crazy iceberg.

When I first heard about this, I thought I must just be around someone who was singularly obsessed with making this harder than it needs to be. Then I found out that this is a real thing that lots of parents are into. It's a "thing."

The other day I heard a mom say the actual words, "The Elf On The Shelf is stressing me out this year." Stressing you out? You saying that you're stressed out by Elf On The Shelf is as ridiculous as me saying, "We can still be friends after this."

"Pinterest has a ton of creative ideas," SuperMegaMom said, as if this was a completely normal conversation.

"I know! I have a calendar with all of my ideas for the month, so I can keep it all organized," HighAndMightyMom bragged. The fuck? This the fuck:

"Uh ... you don't just put yours on a shelf?" I asked. They laughed in my face like I just said, "What's pot?"

One mom made tiny doughnuts for the elf. "They're Cheerios!!!"

I'm pretty sure they're actually sadness. Maybe instead of making a calendar to plan out where you'll put the elf each night of December, spend that time having a conversation with an adult about something that has nothing to do with your children or the Royal Fetus.

Look at yourself, Parent. It doesn't have to be this way. The kid does not effing care. And on top of that, no matter how much work you do, you're not getting any positive credit for this. If your kids are still of dumb age, they'll think the elves did this themselves. And if your kids have graduated to smart age and they find your planning calendar, they'll be mad that this whole thing was a sham.

If you work in retail and it's your job to spend hours at work creating the new Christmas window display, then you actually have to do this. Otherwise, it's a hobby. You're not allowed to bitch about a hobby. I spent a summer as a customer service representative at Michaels, and I've seen you people when you go too far. You get all jacked up on hot glue fumes and come up to the counter and demand that I call another store for unicorn cupcake sparkle stickers because you "really need them, this is an emergency."

Let me be clear here: I don't hate the Elf On The Shelf. I hate that some parents are turning this already ridiculous (and totally optional, by the way) holiday tradition into work. They're turning it into something they pretend to begrudgingly do. If you're annoyed by the "work" that you "have" to do for this, stop doing it. This isn't hard. Just step. Away. From the elf bathtub you just made out of marshmallows.

We'll get through this. I leave you with my own version of the Elf On The Shelf craziness, in case you SuperParents needed more creative fuel. Merry Christmas.

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