I’ve Got a Choice to Make: Tylenol or Heroin?

I’ve recently been experiencing some stomach and gastrointestinal problems. Don’t worry, this post won’t degenerate into an in-depth discussion about my guts – because EWWW!!  Therefore, in the interest of sparing you the gory details, I’ll just fast forward through the last nine months of my life. It went something like this:  blah blah a bunch of doctors appointments…. blah blah annoying tests…. blah blah embarrassing ass-exposing hospital gowns…. blah blah a lot of results I needed a medical jargon to English dictionary to help decipher.

That pretty much brings us up to date.   End result after ALL that? I was told that I have stomach inflammation and I could no longer take Advil (or any similar pain relievers) because it would make the problem worse.  Normally, staying away from over-the-counter medication is not a big deal. I’ve never been a pill popper, but this piece of news happened to coincide with that time of the month. Yes boys, for the remainder of this post, you might want to pretend to stare at that Ficus tree over there in the corner, because I’m going to talk about my uterus. I promise I’ll try to make it brief….

 

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For some girls, their monthly visit comes and goes without much disturbance (*if you’re one of these girls you should know that I HATE YOU.  A LOT). But for me, it feels like two porcupines are sumo wrestling around in my lady parts. Usually, Advil is my BFF during those few days, but now I needed to find something else to help anesthetize the porcupines – so, my doctor introduced me to Tylenol. I had never taken it before, but I felt confident that my new friend would help me through the rough patch, and not give me a stomach ulcer in the process.

 

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HERE I COME TO SAVE THE DAY!!!

 

By all appearances, Tylenol was a total badass – bright red box, the words “EXTRA STRENGTH” emblazoned across the front in big letters, and a promise that it would help relieve my pain. We had just met, but I loved Tylenol already. So, I popped two caplets, curled up with my heating pad, and waited to feel anything less than totally fucking miserable.

I waited…. and waited…. and waited. After three hours and no relief, I came to the sad realization that the only thing “extra strength” about Tylenol were its empty promises and boldface lies. Apparently, acetaminophen is medical-speak for “tiny caplet o’ useless crap”.

When I took the second dose, I think I heard my uterus laugh. Actually, it was more of a cackle – the kind you hear from the villain in a movie right before they kill someone. I couldn’t really blame her for going insane. I had the means of curing her ails right in my medicine cabinet, but was opting to take extra strength placebos instead.

 

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After another THIRTY-SIX HOURS of sumo wrestling porcupines, I was faced with a clear choice: I could either keep taking this pathetic excuse for a pain reliever OR set fire to the little red box of lies and start shooting heroin. I thought that since heroin went directly into my veins, it wouldn’t cause any stomach irritation – I’m nothing if not practical.

Granted, heroin may come with a handful of other pesky side effects (including, but not limited to): crippling addiction, face pustules, rotting teeth, itchiness, muscle weakness, depression, and cold sweats. But have you ever heard of a heroin addict complaining about menstrual cramps? Nope! They probably don’t even notice when their period comes because they’re too busy scratching their face pustules.

So months from now, if you see me lying in the gutter with a gaping maw where my teeth used to be, probably covered in a variety of my own bodily fluids, don’t feel bad for me. I’m at peace in a world without porcupines.

 

SEE YA, BITCHES!!

SEE YA, BITCHES!!

The Many Faces of Courage

When the Vanity Fair “Call Me Caitlyn” cover came out, it took the internet by storm.  Literally every social media site was flooded with her images, and it seemed that everyone from politicians to hair stylists had an opinion about her transformation from Bruce to Caitlyn. I was happily surprised that the bulk of the reactions were supportive and complimentary.

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Most commented on her physical appearance – how elegant and stunning she looked in the pictures.  And while I agree it’s hard not to be envious of her gorgeous legs (that no amount of cycling or squatting could EVER earn me) , that wasn’t my first reaction.  I was absolutely blown away by the courage it took for her to decide that after 65-years, she was finally going to show the world who she really was.

Showing the world your uncensored, genuine self can be incredibly HARD.  It makes you totally vulnerable to a world of criticism and judgment; but when that brave decision is made, it has a ripple effect.  Marianne Williamson once wrote, “….As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others….”

To me, you can’t compare or quantify this kind of courage because everybody’s journey is different – what takes courage for one person, might come easily to another.   It can’t be measured by a calculator, ruler, or Richter scale, but that is exactly what people in social media are trying to do right now.  As the sun set on Caitlyn’s first day in the world, the fickle tides of the internet turned against her.  Once her nomination for the Arthur Ashe award for courage was announced, people were quick to point out how her courage paled in comparison to others.

*** My point of contention is that there are NO pale shades of courage *** 

Courage by its very nature is bold and bright – which is why it makes the world seem more radiant and hopeful when we witness it.  When fear presents itself to someone and they don’t back down, that act of bravery deserves our kudos, not our condemnation.  Not only because of the courage it takes to face fear head on, but also because of the inspiration it provides to others.  Along with Caitlyn, there are so many other beautiful faces of courage – each one causing its own amazing ripple effect in an otherwise weary world.  ALL equally magnificent and awe inspiring:

1.  A 5-year old who puts a smile on his face and decides to kick cancer’s ass like a ninja turtle….  

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2.  A woman facing the remainder of her life without the man she spent over 68-years loving….

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3.  The woman who endures stares and snide comments while she fights to get her life back….

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4.  The police officers and firefighters who stare fear down every time they go to work…. 

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5.  The shy kid who stands up to the bully who has made his life a living hell….

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6.  The athlete who isn’t deterred by words like “disability” or “handicap”…. 

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7.  The woman who leaves her abuser in search of a life where love doesn’t equal pain….

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8.  The teenager who rises above the influence of her peers and dares to be different….

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9.  The social activist who doesn’t just dream of a better world, she makes it a reality…. 

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10.  The soldier who knows the true meaning behind the phrase “No man left behind”…. 

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It’s my hope that you’ll remember Caitlyn and the rest of these beautiful faces the next time you encounter ANY act of courage.  Then instead of trying to belittle or compare that act against others, just say a simple word of thanks because they all shine a collective light that makes our whole world brighter.

And for that, I’m incredibly grateful to every one of them.

 

Other Related Articles:

Introducing Caitlyn Jenner

Cheer Caitlyn, But Learn About Nicoll and Marichuy

This Viral Facebook Post About Caitlyn Jenner Taught Everyone a Lesson in Irony

No, A Disabled Vet Was Not Second Place For Arthur Ashe Courage Award 

A Letter to the Yearbook Editor

Dear 5th grade yearbook editor,

I hate you. I know this might sound a bit harsh coming from a person you’ve never met, but perhaps once you’ve read my letter, you’ll come to understand why I think you’re the devil incarnate.

Let me start by saying that I remembered to send in the money to pay for my son’s elementary school yearbook – ON TIME I might add. And let me tell you, as disorganized as I am, that was no easy feat. But now (weeks later) you’ve requested that we also send in wallet-size copies of our kid’s 1st and 5th grade school pictures for some sort of then-and-now yearbook retrospective.

I reiterate, I hate you.

I know the people in your world put their pictures into albums, and there’s probably a fair amount of scrapbooking going on, but in my world, pictures get stuffed into drawers, boxes, cabinets, and closets. They become like Kodak paper caulk, filling in all the little nooks and crannies of those dark, forgotten places. So, asking me to find two specific pictures means sending me on a long expedition through those parts of my house that I would much rather avoid.

I’ve got a reasonable chance of finding the picture taken this school year, but the one from FOUR years ago? You might as well blindfold me, drop me in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, and send me on a quest to find a poison dart frog. Actually, that would be easier – at least I’m sure the poison dart frog exists; I can’t say the same for my son’s 1st grade school photo.

The way I see it, you gave me two crappy options to chose from:  I could either look for the pictures and risk being crushed to death by an avalanche of disorganized photos, or I could forget the whole thing and choke on my own maternal guilt.  At least if I chose the former option, my son would know I died a hero.

So I opened the first closet door….

 

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I swear I heard the Spongebob narrator mocking me in my head.

 

 

After an exhaustive search, my findings only served to reinforce my reasons for wanting to steer clear of these confusing crevices. I felt as though I fell down a rabbit hole, and into a world where nothing makes any sense.  For example, I had an easier time finding my high school field hockey picture from 25-years ago, than my son’s current school photo:

 

 

The 80’s were a very dark time in my hair’s history.

The 80’s were a very dark time in my hair’s history.

 

I also found at least twenty pictures of my dog, Lady, who died almost two decades ago, but not a single wallet-size photo of my son in first grade:

 

Makes me wonder if I subconsciously love my dog more than my kid.

Do I subconsciously love my dead dog more than my kid?

 

My crazy trip to blunderland also unearthed an 8×10 photo of this from the depths of my closet:

 

You just can’t make this shit up.

You just can’t make this shit up.

 

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate being reminded of the fact that I’m married to a man who not only photographs creepy bugs, but also feels compelled to enlarge them like they’re family portraits. For obvious reasons, my brain made the executive decision long ago to forget about this adorable quirk of his, but due to your little treasure hunt, it’s once again staring at me in the face – with all five of its beady bug eyes.

I wish I could tell you that after hours of sweating and sifting through these bittersweet remnants of my past, I achieved my goal of finding the lost pictures; but that’s the kind of fairytale ending only organized people get to have. My ending includes a cold six-pack, and a debate over whether or not to venture back into the bewildering abyss tomorrow.

But before I crack open my first beer, I’d like to thank you for wasting the better part of my day on a fruitless search to find a picture I probably didn’t even get around to sending to his grandmother. And another word of thanks for making me feel like the world’s crappiest mother because I managed to hang onto Jeff Goldblum’s after-photo, but not my own son’s school portraits.

Maybe someday when my kids are all grown up and I’m looking for a new hobby, I’ll break out some pinking shears and create a collage of perfect memories. But until then, here’s my scrapbook, bitch….

 

Move the fuck over, Martha Stewart.

Move the fuck over, Martha Stewart.

A Letter to My Father: Two Years After His Death

*** Warning***

Most of the time, this is a humor blog. Or at least, it tries to be. Which is why I feel like I need to give you fair warning about the emotional shit storm you’re about to stumble into. If you’ve come here looking for a laugh, you’d better go HERE instead or check back with me in a couple of weeks when I’m (hopefully) done venting my anger at my dead father, and have once again found my sense of humor….

 

Dear Dad –

Today marks the 2nd anniversary of your death. In the weeks leading up to this day, I’ve been bracing myself for the suffocating wave of grief that crashed down on my head at this time last year, but it never came. Much to my surprise, rage was there to take its place. It started one night, about a month ago, when I sat down to watch a film called Broken (insert bitter irony here) starring Tim Roth.

 

 

 

 

If there really is an afterlife, maybe you watched me that night from whatever dimension you’re in, sobbing alone on my couch as I watched the beautiful relationship between a father and daughter blossom behind the screen of my TV. Could you feel the unbearable longing deep in the center of my chest as I watched those two characters take part in something we never had? Did you feel guilty as I played and rewound the touching father/daughter parts of the movie dozens of times? God, I hope so. I know that sounds pretty harsh, cruel even. But right now, I really don’t care if I hurt your feelings.

 

Missing you was the only constant in my life that didn’t change when you died. For the first eighteen years of my life, you were never there for me. Ever. You were always quick to explain those years away – citing the divorce, the physical distance (between our homes in Illinois and New York), and Mom’s anger towards you as the reasons behind your absence. But now that I’m a parent, I know something I didn’t know when I was a child – there’s nothing that can stand in the way of a parent who truly wants to be with their child. NOTHING.

 

A quote I read by Jim Rohn pretty much sums up my feelings about your side of the story: “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” And Dad, you were all about excuses when it came to your children. You know what I think was the real truth behind your absence? I think you felt little kids were tedious and boring. So you bided your time until your children were old enough to have those grownup conversations you loved so much. Then we could talk for hours like old friends, while bonding over cigarettes and beer.

 

Never quite worked out though, did it? Sure, we had plenty of chats over cigarettes and beer, but the bonding always felt forced and uneasy. Part of me was afraid to drop my guard around you because I never knew if the next thing out of my mouth would make you disappear back into the void. So I became the consummate daughter for you – quick to laugh at your jokes and put you up on a pedestal…. never realizing that it’s almost impossible to bond with someone when they’re towering high above you.

 

But underneath my meticulously made smokescreen, lurked a girl who was anything but perfect. You never met her. She’s the messed up result of a lifetime of paternal neglect that your once-a-year visits did little to assuage. Your absence made me who I am today every bit as much as Mom’s presence – maybe even more so.

 

Here are the parts of me I was too scared to show you….

 

– The child who desperately sought out the attention of other fathers to fill the void you left behind. Even if those fathers were total assholes, I still clung to every scrap of affection they showed me. All my earliest memories of rough housing, playing, and cuddling were done with those men – I don’t have a single one that includes you.

 

– The teenager who always dated older guys because I was looking for a father figure, rather than a whirlwind romance. And when I didn’t have a boyfriend, I used the male friends that I surrounded myself with to fill the empty space. Sadly, teenage boys make pretty crappy fathers – they’re much more interested in getting into your pants than healing your inner child.

 

– The grown woman who has to combat pangs of jealousy every time I see a father carrying a small child up on his shoulders or being affectionate towards them, because you never laid a finger on me unless it accompanied a hello or goodbye. That woman cries too easily over stupid, cheesy songs like Butterfly Kisses and melodramatic Hallmark commercials designed to sell greeting cards. She also resents the hell out of you for all of the above.

 

I wonder what would’ve happened if I had the guts to show you all of that, or worse, the anger and frustration behind it all – kind of like when America Ferrera (playing Carmen) tells off her dad in the movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants….

 

 

That phone call was the exact one I wanted to have with you a million times, but I could never manage to gather up enough courage for that kind of confrontation.  I imagine there must be an awesome feeling of freedom that comes along with getting really pissed off at someone, and at the same time knowing that they’re still going to be there to love you afterwards. I never trusted you enough to test that freedom. If I had, do you think we’d have enjoyed the same storybook ending as the father and daughter in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants?  Yeah, I didn’t think so either.  Because unlike the sappy chick flicks I perpetually fall hook, line, and sinker for, life doesn’t have happy Hollywood endings. Apparently, when it comes to emotional pain it doesn’t have any ending at all.  Kind of sucks.

 

I have to say though, I prefer this newfound anger to the overwhelming grief I had been feeling these past two years since you died – it’s easier to manage. There’s a lot less crying involved. Probably because I’m no longer pouring over old photos, or listening to the songs on the radio that remind me of you. When I took my favorite picture of us off of my bedroom dresser the night I watched Broken and threw it in a drawer, it almost felt good…. or at least justified.  I have the feeling I won’t be taking it back out anytime soon.

 

I don’t know what the next year of grieving will bring, but for now you can keep your shiny pennies and “signs” from the other side, if there is one. There’s no comfort in knowing that you’re there for me in death when you never were in life. But feel free to sit back and watch the real me for a while, because if reincarnation exists, I might prevent you from fucking up the daughter you have in your next life.  Just promise me that before you choose to dive back into the mortal melee again, you’ll do yourself and her a big favor – learn how to hug.

 

Still yours,

Linda

Jeff Bridges: The New Voice of My Nightmares

I lost myself on a weird internet tangent while playing around on Facebook yesterday. I glanced over at the “trending” part of my home page and saw that actor Jeff Bridges had recently released an album designed to help people fall asleep (you might have seen his commercial about it during the Super Bowl). I thought to myself, “Hey, I like sleep and I like Jeff Bridges!” So I clicked on the link and checked it out.

I was expecting him to guide me through some gentle meditation exercise or perhaps play some soft music mixed with the sounds of nature.  It wasn’t like that.  AT ALL.  To me, it felt like somebody killed the real Jeff Bridges, buried him in Stephen King’s pet cemetery, and he was resurrected into some weird, creepy version of himself. Then that zombie made the executive decision to scare the crap out of people with insomnia. I listened to the tape with my ten-year old son, and after the first few tracks he looked at me and said, “Worst. Lullaby. Ever.”

I guess I should have been forewarned about the creepy nature of the tape by one of the pictures Jeff Bridges used to promote it. He looks like he wants to eat my liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti…..

 

People taste extra yummy when they’re sleepy.

People taste extra yummy when they’re sleepy.

 

But if Mr. Lecter didn’t make you feel all snug and ready to sleep, you could scroll your way passed that and go directly to the other image on the album that he thought might lull you. The caption he put on the opposite page of this picture is “Sweet dreams, friend”. Yeah, not bloody likely…..

 

This guy might be the most awake person EVER.

This guy might be the most awake person EVER.

 

I’ll spare you the hour it takes to listen to the whole tape (and the resulting night terrors), and highlight my favorite parts for you.  You NEED to hear these tracks.  Seriously.  I can’t be the only one in the world who’s stuck with this weird stuff echoing around inside my brain.  After you click on the link below and scroll down to the album, I encourage you to read my brief synopsis of each track before you listen to it.

 

And now friends, you are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but also of some really messed up shit.  Welcome to Jeff Bridges’ sleep tape twilight zone:  Sleep Tape Link

 

INTRODUCTION (GOOD EVENING):  I can only assume that some major drugs were smoked, injected, or snorted off a hooker’s ass before making the introduction to this tape.  Jeff talks about all the deep and profound implications behind words like “sleep” “sharing” and “tapes”.   I guess he was just covering his bases in case his audience didn’t happen to have the vocabulary of a five-year old.

 

SLEEP, DREAM, WAKE UP: If Edgar Allan Poe were to ever collaborate on a sleep tape, this track would be the resulting byproduct. Apparently, Jeff and Edgar want to destroy any hope you may have of ever getting another good night’s sleep.

 

HUMMMMMM: This track is exactly what it sounds like – he hums for you. Except this is not the Marvin Gaye, deep, melodic sort of hum. This is the guy on the subway wearing headphones, humming along to his iPod, and not realizing that he’s annoying the crap out of everyone else around him sort of hum.

 

SEE YOU AT THE DREAMING TREE: This track sounds like he recorded it at a playground. There’s a lot of chaotic background noise of kids playing and jabbering on. Jeff, I’m not sure you’re aware of this, but most parents barely tolerate the sounds of their own children, much less other people’s. I can think of nothing less soothing to fall asleep to…. except maybe your humming.

 

IKEA: On this track Jeff talks about death and the bizarre things he wants to have happen to his remains after he’s gone. By putting this information on a sleep tape, I can only assume that his mother was Morticia Addams and had some really fucked up notions about what constituted pre-bedtime chit chat.

 

FEELING GOOD: His heart was in the right place with this track. He simply wanted to list all the things about you that make you the wonderful person that you are. So he goes on to talk about your awesome ability to predict when the light is going to turn green, how well you order food at a restaurant, and how much the night janitors at your workplace love your clean desk. Ummm, thanks? But you could’ve just told me what pretty eyes I have.

 

After that peculiar peek into Jeff Bridges’ brain, I feel compelled to try and make up for dragging you along on that weird expedition by showing you a hysterical version of this sleep tape that was put out by a video blogger named VlogRay.  Laugh well, Friend…..

 

What Kind of Junk is Stuck to Your Trunk?

I’d like to think of myself as a pretty tolerant person, but sometimes when a pet peeve of mine is triggered, I momentarily lose my amiable nature, and become something akin to an R-rated version of Oscar the Grouch. I’ve had the same pet peeves for years, most of which are pretty standard. But recently I’ve felt a new one beginning to crop up. At first, it started out like one of those underground pimples – an annoyance that I tried to squelch before it came to a head. But now this sucker is red, ripe, and sitting right on the end of my nose, just begging to be popped.

 

I CAN’T STAND “Proud Parent of….” BUMPER STICKERS!!  Damn that felt good….

 

I’m aware of the fact that I probably just offended half of my readers, but it has to be said because parents have gone totally over the top with these stickers.  The back of some of these cars read like college applications. Since the dean of Harvard is unlikely to be driving behind you, why do you feel the need to advertise all of your child’s academic and athletic achievements to the world?

 

I get it, you’re proud. By all means, call Grandma and tell her all about the fact that little Sally made the honor roll, won a gold medal at her gymnastics tournament, and then rescued a baby whale during her Greenpeace excursion. She’s SUPER awesome!! But nobody but Grandma (and maybe you) cares.

 

You might argue that you’re just letting your child know that your pride for them is like these bumper stickers – permanent and unable to be removed without the use of a razor blade and/or blowtorch. But here’s a secret that your child might not be willing to share with you: they find these stickers just as obnoxious as the person driving behind you. And if your child is over the age of twelve, you can add a hefty dose of teenager embarrassment to that as well.

 

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Part of me gets why these bumper stickers are so popular. Besides people wanting to brag about their kids, they also promote a sense that the world is a perfect place to live in. A place where all children get smiley face stickers on the top of their math tests, and score the winning goal at their soccer game. It’s a lovely idea, but it’s also total crap. Parenting is a messy, complicated business, and rarely idyllic.

 

Which is why I’ve come up with a better way for proud parents to decorate their cars – I’m calling them “The Real Deal” bumper stickers.  Not only will EVERY parent find something they can relate to, but my bumper stickers also won’t make the person driving behind you want to smack the shit out of you.

 

1.  For some kids, getting on the honor roll is about as probable as Macaulay Culkin getting another big movie deal – but that’s OKAY!!  Getting straight A’s isn’t nearly as important as learning not to share your poop with the people you live with….

proud parent toilet

 

 

2.  As a parent, it’s important to not only pick your battles, but also take your victories where you can get them.  No matter how small they may seem….

math.homework.

 

 

3.  Let’s face it, sometimes sitting on the sidelines of your kid’s game is BOOORRRRRING!!  There’s just so much cheering you can do before you start to pray for death – beginning with the screaming parent next to you that just ruptured their spleen (and your eardrum) because their son missed the ball.  For those parents who want to show support but would honestly rather be somewhere else, this one’s for you….

soccer parent

 

 

4.  After the age of ten, most honor students are like those cars that drive themselves.  They really don’t need parents behind the wheel directing them where to go (or taking credit for getting them there).  I know this because my daughter is like one of those freaky self-driven Google cars.  So I made this version of the “proud parent” for her because we both know the truth….

Honor.student.

 

 

5.  Being a parent is hard.  Being a parent stuck inside a metal box with a toddler is HELL….

wheels.on.bus

 

 

6.  It’s not much easier when they get to be teenagers and discover dance music that makes you want to gouge out your eardrums with a set of car keys….

homicidal radio

 

 

7.  Sure, driving around with your kids can sometimes be annoying, but those little rugrats can be a real lifesaver to the other drivers on the road.  Especially for the ones who cut you off in traffic….

giving.the.finger.

 

 

8.  It’s been a decade since I had a baby, but I remember the trauma of sleep deprivation the way most soldiers remember the horrors of war.  For all you parents out there driving around like extras from The Walking Dead, I’m here to make sure you don’t get pulled over during your commute to work….

sleep deprived

 

 

9.  Along with sleep deprivation, babies can also make you forget that you have sexual organs, and that you once used those man/lady bits for something other than creating life.  Go ahead and post your problem on the back of your car so other new parents won’t feel like the only sexually castrated Ken/Barbie dolls on the block….

babies libidos

 

 

10.  Having a teenager brings with it a different set of hardships, most of them chock full of hormones and seething hatred.  While I may get a full night’s sleep now, I have to do it with one eye open….

road.rage

 

 

11.  Most kids will test your patience on occasion.  GOOD parents learn how to control the urge to strangle their offspring when their kid throws a temper tantrum.  GREAT parents go on to promote world peace despite being given a lot of shit at home….

ghandi

 

 

12.  Just once I’d like to see a “drive carefully” bumper sticker that wasn’t put on a car to protect someone’s baby or grandma.  Like a drug lord, for instance….

drive.carefully.

 

 

13.  Trying to keep your child engaged in activities that challenge their mind and body is hard, especially when it’s Sunday afternoon and all you want to do is take a nap.  You wish they came with an auto-pilot button so you could just get a little bit of  “me” time.  And then you realize that they do…..

xbox.parent

 

 

14.  A subset problem of  the “Proud Parent” bumper stickers are these stick figure family decals.  Here’s why:  you know that creepy guy who lives in your neighborhood?  The one you checked out online to see if he was a registered sex offender or just gave you the willies for no reason?  Well, your decals just made his life a whole lot easier….

stick.figure

 

 

15.  Whether you choose to go back to work or stay at home after having kids, it’s easy to feel like the grass is always greener on the other side.  I chose the latter and after about a decade, having a misogynistic boss who doesn’t appreciate me has become a fantasy of mine….

stay at home mom

 

A Leprechaun Killed the Elf on the Shelf

As I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed last week, I saw all the frustrated Elf on the Shelf posts from my friends, and smiled to myself. It was the kind of smile a parent wears only a handful of times in their lives when they know they’ve made a brilliant parental decision. In this case, I made the choice years ago to never invite that creepy, borderline demonic, looking elf into my house.

I’m willing to do a lot of crazy stuff for my kids, but continuously fucking up my house for the 24 days leading up to Christmas isn’t one of them. This time of year is about maintaining my sanity, so I don’t accidentally strangle one of my loved ones with a strand of Christmas lights while visions of sugarplums dance in their heads. Well, that and all the merry, fa-la-la crap too, I guess. But it will never, EVER be about creating more work for myself during an already hectic time of year. There are innocent lives at stake.

 

 

Move along, nothing creepy to see here....

Move along, nothing creepy to see here….

 

 

I know what all you avid Elf-on-the-Shelfers are thinking right now – What a scrooge!! It’s FUN! The kids love it! Trust me, I’m not trying to give Ebenezer a run for his money. I can be just as holly and jolly as the rest of you at this time of year – though there’s usually some sort of booze involved. If you saw me years ago when my kids were little, you’d know that I wasn’t always against making a little mischief in order to entertain my children. That’s how I know these sorts of “fun” parental pranks can spiral out of control.

 

But it wasn’t the Elf on the Shelf wreaking havoc in my home – it was a little leprechaun named Shenanigan. It started out innocent enough. It was supposed to be a one-shot deal to amuse my (then) seven year old, fairy obsessed daughter and her friend who had come over for a play date. They had dubbed themselves the “fairy finders” and they were in active pursuit of the mysterious creatures when an idea occurred to me – I thought it would be fun for them to be able to interact with their fairies. But since it happened to be St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to make it a leprechaun instead. I blame my husband’s Irish ancestry and his ugly collection of Tom Clark gnomes – all of which looked far creepier than the Elf on the Shelf. Case and point:

Makes the Elf on the Shelf look positively adorable by comparison.

Makes the Elf on the Shelf look positively adorable by comparison.

 

The game began with me writing little notes for them to find around the house. When they came upon the first note (written in tiny, curlicue handwriting) they were absolutely giddy with excitement. They quickly started a written dialog with someone they believed was a fairy, but quickly discovered was a magical leprechaun visiting from Ireland. I swear I wasn’t drunk at the time. Looking back, I find that fact hard to believe because when you start seeing leprechauns, there’s almost always alcohol involved.

 

I’ll admit it, I was caught up in the excitement too. I got an adrenaline rush each time I had to write the note (in ridiculously complicated print) before they came back into the room. I had to be quick, quiet, and creative; or Shenanigan would live up to his fraudulent name and once again resume life as a dusty knick-knack on my shelf.

 

After about an hour, I couldn’t take the pressure anymore. My nerves were frayed and I had become more jittery than excited each time I escaped discovery. I ended the game by writing that Shenanigan had to go visit the houses of other good little Irish boys and girls before St. Patrick’s Day ended. While disappointed, they seemed to understand the reason for his hasty departure, which surprised me. They latched onto the weird idea of Ireland’s version of Santa Claus as a rational concept, the way only little kids and stoned adults can.

 

I stupidly thought their one-time encounter with a leprechaun would become a fun childhood memory they would recount years from now. Until my bright-eyed little girl came up to me before bed that night and said, “I can’t wait for Shenanigan to come back next St. Patrick’s Day!!”

 

OH. SHIT.

 

I had a brief moment when I thought about coming clean, but how could I look into those eager little eyes and crap all over her magical moment? Answer – I couldn’t.  And so began Shenanigan’s annual trips to our house. I felt compelled to try and make each visit more magical and outlandish than the previous year; which ultimately resulted in making my house look like a bunch of drunken, Irish frat boys had visited us.

 

Shenanigan buying their loyalty with chocolates.

Shenanigan buying their loyalty with chocolates.

 

Every year, I bought loads of gaudy St. Patrick’s Day decorations from the party store, and used them to trash my house. There were streamers hanging in every room of the house with balloons to match, shamrock confetti on the floors, rainbows and Irish flags drawn on all the mirrors, green water in the toilets, and glitter scattered where ever Shenanigan had left a note for them to read.

 

This is just a small taste of the havoc that Shenanigan left in his wake…..

 

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I think this was the day my seething hatred of confetti began…..

 

 

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Tri-fold mirror or poor excuse for an Irish flag – you be the judge.

 

 

After several years of this self-defeating stupidity, it got to the point where I dreaded the approach of St. Patrick’s Day. While my friends and family members were having fun going to parades and getting drunk on green beer, I was making an inordinate amount of housework for myself. The glitter alone was enough to make weaker moms run in fear. Have you ever tried getting a piece of glitter off your hands? Almost impossible. Now times that chore by about A BILLION, and add in some confetti to make it extra obnoxious. Every time I threw the little foil shamrocks all over the floor, I wondered if this was the year they would kill one of my cats.

 

Taste the rainbow.

Barf the rainbow.

 

The clean-up craziness would go on for days afterward because every time I turned around, I would find more leprechaun residue on the floors or furniture. I finally decided that no sane person would willingly sign up for this bullshit. Shenanigan had to die – preferably a slow, painful death involving party favors. I won’t give you the details of how I basically killed all my children’s St. Patrick’s Day dreams – I already feel enough like Cruella DeVil without having my parental mistakes immortalized on the internet.  But suffice to say that it will give my kids something to chat about with their future therapist.

 

After this experience, it wasn’t hard for me to decide whether or not I wanted to participate in the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon. To me, it would be like inviting Shenanigan to spend a month with me. No offense to the little figment of my imagination, but he was kind of an asshole; and from all the stories I’ve heard about the creepy Christmas tattletale, so is the elf.

 

Looks like Shenanigan isn't the only one out to get the cats.

Looks like Shenanigan isn’t the only one out to get the cats.