Happy is staring me down.
Three years ago, a package arrived in the mail. It was covered in stamps from around the globe. I knew it was actually from my sister, but the return address was marked "North Pole." This was the day we received our very own Elf on the Shelf. He came with a little story book explaining his existence, and we as a family had to choose a name for him. Noah was just seven months old at the time, but Joey was three. And Joey picked the name "Happy."
And now, as I said, Happy is staring me down.
He's on the shelf right above where I now sit, and he has this irritatingly complacent smile on his face. And he looks off to the side. I think it's because his story says he is Santa's scout, watching to see who is naughty and who is nice, but he's a total thorn in my side and I think his sideways stare is annoying. At night, Happy supposedly heads to the North Pole to report to the Big Man, and then returns to us by dawn. Every morning, he is perched in a new and clever spot in our house, a sign that he went away and came back.
This brings my children inexplicable joy, which probably indicates that Happy was aptly named. Every morning, the boys race through the house, tripping over each other, trying to find where that tricky elf has taken himself. Yesterday he was dangling from the dining room chandelier. Noah fell over in giggles, his belly shaking like Santa himself. He groaned, "Oh, Happy! You're so silly!" Joey just shook his head knowingly, as if to say, "Those elves. So unpredictable, but what can you do?"
But the pressure is so HUGE to keep coming up with places to perch this stupid thing. The boys are infinitely disappointed if Happy repeats a locale, and sometimes I don't even realize it's happened. "The bookshelf again? Come ON, Happy!"
Even worse--and I'm so ashamed, I really am--is when Happy doesn't move at all. You know, some nights, you're just really tired. You're exhausted. It's been a long day of wiping poop off the bathroom floor or explaining that, "NO, I don't have a penis and really, I AM okay with that," or whatever. You climb into bed, and you have that blissful moment where every part of you sinks into the mattress and you exhale deeply with your eyes closed and then BAM! Happy's face appears before your eyes, all taunting, and maybe you think, "I'll get up early and do it then." But then, you don't.
This is really hard to explain to little boys who love their elf. In our house, I'm met with overly rounded eyes filled with tears and trembling chins and the fragile question, "Is...is it because we're BAD?"
I don't know how other parents handle this. Probably, other parents aren't idiots who fall asleep without moving their elf. But me? I look at my darling little children and say, "Well, I guess you must have been. Happy must not have wanted to tell Santa bad news, though, so just be EXTRA good today."
Terrible. I know. I really feel terrible. Honestly. And I have all kinds of plans this year--premeditated lists of shelves in my house and little mental reminders all day long. Because it's a cute little tradition and generally makes Joey and Noah happier than ice cream sundaes. Every day!
But he really is a stupid elf. Stupid Happy.