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John Cena is kicking my butt

John Cena, our naughty elf, loves to slide down the stair banister!

John Cena, our naughty elf, loves to slide down the stair banister!

Well, all you over-achieving moms are really on top of things this holiday season. Your trees are up, your gifts are purchased and your Elves on the Shelves are making merry all over the place! The rest of us are trying to catch up, but with limited success.

Facebook is the new battleground state, a place for Top Moms to showcase their stuff and the place for Trying Really Hard Moms to watch them with a sense of wonder and ever-increasing feeling of inadequacy. Y’all know into which camp I fall.

I want to be a Top Mom, and I tried really hard to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving this year. But Little Son refused to get on board with my plan. “I want to have Thanksgiving first. Why is everyone in such a hurry?” he asked me.

Because it takes me forever, that’s why. What used to take me one day, now takes three. Five if you include clean-up, that’s why. But I honored Little Son’s wishes until Nov. 27, then asked The Hubs to drag everything down from the attic. It took me two days to decorate the tree. I nearly lost my nerve that first dark and cold night after I discovered one of the light strands was out. At midnight. I started to strip the lights from Bodacious’ new tree before The Hubs remembered there were some extra strands in one of the boxes. Whew, that was close! Now, that is an almost brand new tree and I don’t understand why the lights are already out. I immediately suspected John Cena, our wicked little Elf on the Shelf. He was probably mad that I hadn’t pulled him out yet like all the other elves who mysteriously showed up on Thanksgiving break.

Now, if you aren’t familiar with Elf on the Shelf, get ready for some high creepiness. He (or she) is a little felt bodied and enormous plastic-headed toy figure that is supposed to lurk about your home, spying on your children. Each night, the elf disappears to the North Pole to report good and bad behavior to Santa. Each morning, he magically reappears in a new location and is “caught” by the kids, frozen mid-act in some new act of merriment. Every night. That’s right. Every single night, after dinner and dishes, homework, baths, bedtime stories and just one more glass of water, exhausted caregivers everywhere need to remember to move that elf and stage a fun and clever scene for him.

And y’all. Some folks are really, really into this! There are kits available for modifying your elf so it can be more lifelike. You can add floral wire into the doll’s limbs so it can appear to climb and is more poseable. Some people add magnets into the hands and feet so their elves can swing from the air vents or Spider Man the mini-fridge. And now, the elves have more clothes! That’s right, you can buy little hipster t-shirts, leather bomber jackets, tutus and much, much more for your elf. Like a puppy. Or a reindeer.

Other people rig up contraptions, like stage rigging, so elves can fly through the air. I’ve also seen elves riding on toy trains, zip lining and flying in hot air balloons, too. Ain’t nobody got time for that in December. But apparently, some of you do.

Reader Melissa Rogers told me that she didn’t see the elf as work.

“I think they are a wonderful way to keep Christmas exciting for both the kids and the parents. There isn’t anything better than seeing a child’s face light up. Makes me wish mine were small enough to do this. It brings a whole new aspect to the joy of the season.”

I think what is comes down to is basic personality. Some moms are just more, well, fun than I am. Now, if you want to have a dance party or a spa day, or put on a play, I’m your girl! Want to go to Vegas or host a bloody Mary skip day? Count me in! But if you want me to play practical jokes, snipe hunt or go to Six Flags, ugh! I would rather have a tooth pulled.

My sweet friend Elizabeth Ryan and I discussed this very thing at the annual Mom of the Year retreat. She told me she was grateful when her teen-aged son Nathan volunteered to take elf duties over for her.

“Nathan finally fessed up to me last year that he knew I was in charge of our elf, Jingles, and told me that he would like to take charge for his little sister’s sake because I stank at it.”

Love it! I also love the moms that are sticking to their guns about not participating in the Elf on the Shelf nonsense. It is so much work for people that don’t enjoy shenanigans! Stay strong my sisters, stay strong. But when your kindergartener comes home sobbing and wants to know why Santa doesn’t love them enough to send them an elf like all the other kids at school, Target has them right by the registers and there are still some at Bed, Bath and Beyond!

If you don’t know what to do with them, I suggest Pinterest and Facebook for ideas. There are plenty of other moms out there, killing it and posting about it. And there are even more moms just like me, who will show you how to navigate with the least amount of effort. If you forget to move the elf at night, it’s because your child stayed awake too late. If someone touches him, grab him with salad tongs and throw him into the freezer for a North Pole “reset.” It takes at least 24 hours for a reset. Keep lots of marshmallows on hand for quick scenes. Rinse out that wine glass, insert the elf and a ½ cup of mini marshmallows, you’ve got an elf stuck in a snow globe. Throw some toothpicks in them, elf making s’mores or elf building a snow man. You get the picture. I personally love using the Barbie Dream House. Everything is just the right size for John Cena. He’s throwing a Barbie Christmas party as we speak. Today I read about an under the weather mom who was leaving the elf with a thermometer and a doctor’s note requiring 3 days of bed rest. I bet she gave him a giant marshmallow pillow, too.

Now, Melissa, I want you to feel … complete this holiday season! You are officially invited over to my home at 2 a.m. each morning to move John Cena! If you don’t show up pretty soon, mother’s intuition tells me that John Cena may have a bad cold coming on by mid-December. I know you wouldn’t want to be responsible for that now, would you? Floral wire is in the desk… .

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