This Is The Worst-Case Scenario


I’m blaming the fact that I’m running late on Christmas prep on the fact that I was still wearing shorts until just last week, and I just cannot force myself to get in the mood until I have to wear fuzzy socks and pajama bottoms when I take my dogs out back to potty (I apologize to any neighbors who can see in my backyard when it’s warm outside, because I tell myself that wearing a t-shirt and undies is no different than wearing a swimsuit and coverup.)  

We just got our first cool snap last week, so it was in the upper 70’s until then.  Now it feels like winter, but this weekend it’s going to be almost 80 degrees again.  

Texas weather is a box of chocolates, y’all.

I’m also running late because I was just so over it on our store-bought yard decorations, and since my dad made my brother’s family all new, and very cute, Christmas yard signs (my brother’s always been the favorite child*), I decided I was going to sell all our old decor, and make my own Christmas yard signs.

I might have underestimated the amount of work that goes into making wooden yard signs.  

They take much longer than I expected.  In fact, I’m still putting the finishing touches on our stuff, and I don’t mind telling you, I’m high as the damn Eiffel Tower right now, because I’ve been hot-boxing myself in the garage all morning with cases of spray paint cans and various glues.

Here’s the deal:  I have a rule that the {expletive} Elf on the Shelf - ours is named Dragonclyde - doesn’t make his appearance until the house is fully decorated for Christmas, which gets me off the hook, leaving me only a good two weeks or so of having to move that damn thing.

Last week, we were in the car running errands when my 9-year-old was complaining that everyone else’s elf has shown up this year, and where could Dragonclyde be?  Then he started asking questions - pointed questions - about whether I had an elf when I was growing up.

9YO:  Was it a boy or a girl elf?

Me:  I think it was a girl one.

9YO:  What was its name?

Me:  Hmmmm… I don’t remember.

9YO:  You don’t?  That’s weird.  How old were you when she stopped coming?

Me:  I don’t remember that, either.

The kid has got to think I’m an idiot.

I pulled out one of my favorite parenting techniques and changed the subject really fast, but I was left thinking to myself that we’re probably getting close to The Truth.

A few days ago, Dragonclyde finally showed up, and the 9-year-old was excited and also relieved to know he wasn’t orphaned by his late-to-the-party elf.

Later that day, I let him help me wrap presents for his brother and dad, which meant that I did all the wrapping, while he got himself hogtied in an entire package of Scotch tape, and had sword fights with himself using my discarded wrapping paper tubes.

Meanwhile, we squeezed in some conversation:

9YO:  Mommy, tell me the truth:  do you move Dragonclyde?  {comes and sits in front of me, looking me dead in the eye, his big, brown eyes wide with the hope and vulnerability only precious 9-year-olds hold.}  Be honest.  

Me:  Slowly… carefully, now...  Yes, but --

9YO:  Throws himself backward, and is now writhing around on the ground, crying.  What?!  Why?  No!!  So I believed in him for no reason? 

Me:  Wait - listen!  Stuttering, my cheeks flushed in frustration.  Listen, baby!  I'm reaching for him as he rolls around like he's stopped-dropped-and-rolling, but I can't quite reach him, no matter how far I stretch my desperate arms.

Tears - real ones - started streaming down, as he cried, saying that he felt silly for believing in an elf, and that he should have known better than to correct those few friends that told him elves weren’t real.

I almost laughed out loud at the absurdity at how bad this was going.   It couldn’t possibly get any worse.

9YO:  So you’ve been moving him all along?  

Me:  Yes.  Long pause, while I decide if I should say anything more, and then:  Well, me and Dad.  But listen --

9YO:  What??  I can’t believe I believed in him and I even named him that silly name for no reason!

Sweet Lord, it got worse.

Me:  Bud, listen!  ←-Because I was clearly having a hard time coming up with something - anything.  

This was exactly what I was afraid of.  This is one of my biggest fears in my life as a parent, second only to my fear of my boys not being popular, or someone finding out we rarely floss their teeth.

Me:  Sweetie, here’s the deal:  you’ve heard of the “spirit of Christmas,” right?  The spirit of Christmas is a feeling.  It’s the magical feeling that’s really hard to explain, especially to little kids.  The only way little kids can understand it talk about it like it’s a person.  So the elf is that “person,” to help spread the magical feeling of Christmas.  But when kids get a little older and more mature - when they can understand better - then they can help move the elf around, and spread that magical feeling to others.  

9YO:  Sitting up now, sniffling, but drying his tears.  Really?

Me:  Yes, of course.  So this isn’t a sad time, this is a happy time!  You’re mature enough now to help spread the magic of Christmas!  

I credit a post I saw on Facebook with this brilliant perspective.  

And even though he was coming around a bit, I still had to struggle to hold back my laughter at the thought of posting my comments of “how it went.”  

I’m sure all the other commenters would say things like, “I said this to my son, and he had such a peaceful calm come over him, and he glowed with understanding as we were encircled in ribbons of gold light.”  And, “After explaining it this way to my daughter, she hugged me and thanked me for giving her the gift of Christmas magic all these years.”  

And then my comment would be, “Well, my kid had a complete meltdown and basically told me I’d destroyed his childhood because I was such a filthy liar.  So, yah.  Thanks a lot for the 'advice.'"

The conversation with my son didn’t end there, because he of course asked about Santa.  I pulled out my second favorite parenting technique and answered in vague, broad strokes that weren’t technically lies, and would hopefully get the point across in as sensitive a manner as possible.  

I was pleased with the outcome, but then yesterday he told me that he’s pretty sure he caught Santa sneaking out of our house late one night.  So apparently my message missed the mark, meaning that my baby boy will still have that magical, mysterious feeling of Santa coming to visit.

It also means that there will be a Part Two of The Truth in our future.

*Not only is my brother the Family Favorite, but we live three hours away from my parents.  My brother’s family lives less than a mile from them, so my sis-in-law takes full advantage of this and gets my dad to make her whatever she wants.  She’s adorable, so it makes it that much more annoying.