Thursday, December 20, 2012

Doin' it wrong... with holiday spirit!

I hate the Elf on the Shelf.

My daughter, a typical little girl in every way, dearly wishes we had one. 

My grandmother had one of those things when I was growing up.  It sat in the shelf of the built-in hutch that was part of her Cicero dining room.  Hanging above it were a giant stuffed buck's head and a couple sets of antlers that my Papou had brought home from hunting trips in years gone by.  The disembodied deer head was less disturbing to me than the damned Elf.

First of all, the deer was a handsome example of its breed.  The elf is a creepy, leering, fingerless mongrel crouching in a corner beside some plates we never used.  The antlers held no particular malice, despite their forcible removal from their original host.  The elf was silently judging me every time I went past. 

Those little buggers scare the crap out of me. But wasn't this their original intention?  Did I mention the absence of fingers?  How is an elf supposed to function without fingers, anyway? I thought their whole existence was based on their ability to make toys and do Santa's bidding.  Perhaps that's why this goon was relegated to the shelf, perfectly suited, as it was, for scaring children, and lacking the opposable thumbs required for building a toy train or a doll house.

I always just associated that elf with the vaguely tacky 50s-based decor that characterized my grandparents' house.  You know: the plastic carpet runners everywhere, the carnival glass ash trays, and colored-pebble-lined candy dishes.  Oh, yeah, and the empty wine bottles turned into dolls with plastic heads and crocheted dresses.  Remember that stuff?  No?  What about the padded toilet seat and the fuzzy rug that fit right around the base of the toilet?  The plastic-canvas yarn-embroidered tissue box covers?  Come on, I can't be the only one whose grandmother made this stuff.

Anyway.  One thing that I did NOT miss when my grandparents moved to Florida was that stinking elf.  Then, a couple years ago, Hallmark or some other bunch of jerks starts marketing those things again, and presenting them as an essential part of the Santa Claus myth.  Dude.  It's not bad enough that he sees you when  you're sleeping; now he leaves his creepy minions around to scare your mother.

I didn't buy one.  Hannah wistfully says now and then "I wish we had an Elf on the Shelf," and I remind her of how their lack of extremities is deeply disturbing to me.  But I do feel the guilt of disappointing my child by not providing her with the delight of finding her Creep on the Shelf doing something mischievous and clever every morning.  I would really expect any Elf that infiltrated my home to behave more like the Bloggess's elf than any of those sweet mommy-blogging elves I see tagged now and then on Facebook.  And I'm pretty sure our Elf would terrorize me and give me nightmares.

So.  No dice for Hannah on this one.  I'll have to think of something equally creepy for her. Preferably something with fingers.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Not doin' it wrong with breakfast cereal.

I am a big drag about breakfast cereal.  I limit Hannah's choices to about 4 different products, and specifically outlaw anything chocolate and anything with any Flintstone on the box.  Perhaps sensing my nutritional hypocrisy, Cheerios has started making about 20 different flavors, all pretty much weird, figuring I'm dumb enough to buy anything with their logo on the box.

Turns out they weren't wrong.  A while back we tried the fruity kind.  Blech.  Hannah once had some Fruit Loops on vacation, and wanted to get them at the store.  I compromised with the Fruity Cheerios, but she wouldn't eat them.  I didn't blame her.  This week she wanted to try them again, so I bought her just a single-serving cup of actual Fruit Loops, knowing she wouldn't eat the other stuff.

So this morning, I poured half of those gross little circles in a bowl and gave it to her for breakfast.  She wasn't two bites in before she gave me the puppy face and said that this cereal was kinda weird, could she please have regular Cheerios.

Hm.  Really?  Who would have imagined.  Could you just take my word for it next time?

Not likely.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Look at me! Look at me!

I was talking with my husband recently about whether we should get Hannah a milkshake while running errands.  An important point to bear in mind is that milkshakes and mirrors are Hannah's favorite things in the world.  I'll get back to the mirror later.  We talked about the relative nutritional value or harm of a milkshake, versus a frozen lemonade, or whatever other frozen-ish beverage we might grab at a drive-through so Hannah would feel like she'd had a treat.  Husband pointed out my relative hypocrisy in complaining about the junk content in a milkshake for Hannah, although I eat various other junk without a thought for its nutritional impact.  My reply was: That's true. Still.

This double standard is applied to how I spend my time, as well.  Hannah has always had a limit on daily screen time.  Some days, just because life is busy, she has none; occasionally, on a sick day or rainy day off, she'll get extra time if there is something we all want to watch together.  I give myself no such limitation.  If I had a timer on my web browser as Hannah does, I might spend less time reading stuff on, although I can't promise that.  I check my Facebook and work email multiple times after I come home in the afternoons, even when everyone else is home to offer live human interaction.  Then, after Hannah has gone to bed, Husband and I settle in for grown-up television time.  Don't get too excited; it's usually old episodes of Cheers or The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes on Netflix.  If I added up all my screen time, I'm sure it would better than double Hannah's daily allowance. 

Why do I think this is acceptable?  It takes approximately four minutes to look at my work email to see if I need to change my schedule for tomorrow.  The other 20 minutes are spent trying to catch up a few points on a Words with Friends game or see if anyone has responded to my Facebook status. 

That brings me back to the mirror.  Hannah loves to look at herself in the mirror.  She can spend 30 minutes in the bathroom having a conversation with herself before she gets around to brushing her teeth.  I wouldn't let her have a mirror at eye level in her bedroom when she was smaller, because it only exacerbated her tantrums.  She loves to look at herself, and talk to herself, and pretend there is someone other than her talking back. I'm pretty sure that's the purpose that social media serves for me.  I want to see my reflection, and pretend someone is talking back.  Have my friends responded to my last comment?  Did anyone Like my status?  Do I have any new blog minions? 

I'm fourteen years old and I'm electronically checking my  hair every 20 minutes. 

Someone needs to install some parental controls for me.