A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

I’m learning to love and/or fear my Elf.

The Elf on the Shelf. You either love it or you hate it.

I’m not sure where I fit on that spectrum yet.

My kids pestered me for one of these things for YEARS and I said no, no way, forget it, I don’t care what everyone else has, and aw hayle no. I knew my limits. I had heard all the stories at the bus stop about these things and all the messes they make.

Like I need MORE messes. Bitch, please. I have three kids, two pets, and the hairiest husband in North America. We’re all set, thanks.

I had read about the moms who sprinkle glitter all over their homes in a trail-like formation so the kids can track down the Elf by following the glittery trail around their otherwise immaculate open floor plan. Shoot, I don’t vacuum enough as it is. Last thing I need to do is intentionally add to the funk on my floors.

In my home, I was certain the Elf would get lost in a dog-hair-tumbleweed and we’d never see him again. Or with our luck, the dog would find him first, eat him, and poop out his mangled head for the kids to find in the yard one day, scarring them for life. No thanks.

And then there were all the overwhelming rules and tips I kept hearing. “You can’t touch them.” “They eat cookies and hot cocoa.” “You can catch one in a lollipop trap!” “They love to make snow angels in powdered sugar!”

You’re effin’ kidding me, right? Lord only knows what I’d wake up to if I intentionally spread powdered sugar on my kitchen floor overnight. Nothing says Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus like a swarm of disease-ridden vermin.

My friends tried to get me to drink the Elf Kool-Aid by espousing the incredible disciplinary value.Β One of my stepsisters even said she wished she could keep the Elf out all year! “Clean your rooms or the Elf will tell Santa and you’ll get coal in your stocking!”

Oh come on now. Really? My kids clean their rooms in exchange for the best prize of all: the opportunity to continue living here. This is what is wrong with kids today. They need to be bribed to do everything! I don’t need no stinkin’ Elf for this. I just tell them what my crazed single working mother shouted to me and my brother numerous times: “I swear to GOD…I will call Santa and tell him not to come. Is that what you want? Is it?! ANSWER ME!”

Hey, it worked. Santa always came.

But then last year Grandma “discovered” The Elf on the Shelf and mailed my kids one right after Thanksgiving. She was so darn excited about it that I just didn’t have the heart to say no anymore.

And when I saw how grateful the kids were for Grandma saving the day and providing for them what their mean old hag of a mother refused to do for years, I totally caved.

The kids named him Dobbie. (Original, I know. They wanted to name our Black Lab “Blackie” too.)Β And it was pretty cute to see them bound out of bed every morning last December to search for him.

I have to admit, seeing the excitement on their faces made me totally want to come up with more and better ways of cracking them up everyday. When I remembered to do it, that is. There were definitely more than a few mornings when the kids heard that “Dobbie must be really tired today. Poor guy!”

By far, their favorite memory of Dobbie last year was the morning they found him hanging from the ceiling fan, spinning around and around. Minimal effort. No mess. Laughing kids. That’s my kind of Elf action.

Dobbie’s been back at the North Pole all year, but he reappeared yesterday, ready for action.

Apparently, Santa runs a pretty tight ship. When Dobbie got here last night, he obviously needed to blow off some steam. Kinda reminded me of my Uncle Jeb when he first got outta the joint.

Turns out, Dobbie likes to party.

This is how I found Dobbie this morning. I was afraid of the kids telling their friends and teachers about Dobbie’s drinking problem, so I told Dobbie to do like I do and hide the evidence.

He didn’t like that idea at all. Apparently Dobbie had crossed the line from Happy Drunk to Belligerent Drunk.

I told him to get his shit together before the kids woke up and when I turned back around to see if he was cooperating, I saw this:


I’m a little scared of Dobbie now. But the kids thought it was hysterical. Even little Bucket Head was making jokes and speaking in a demonic voice saying “Who wants Dobbie to butter their toast? HA HA HA!”

Thanks Dobbie. Thank you for giving me a reason to slow down a little and have a moment of fun with my kids every day. I admit it, I used to hate you, but now I think you’re pretty cool. Just put that big knife away, m’kay?




  1. Julie

    I confess, I’m one of those moms who can’t wait until her kid is old enough to look for the Elf. πŸ™‚ My sister has been posting pics of what he’s done all month, and it’s ridiculously cute.

  2. Liza Martz

    Go Dobbie! Blood spilling over the holidays has been a tradition in my family for years, what a relief to find out it’s simply an elf at work.

    • The Bearded Iris

      LMAO Liza! Three cheers for family holiday bloodshed! πŸ™‚

  3. Monica

    That is hilarious! Grandma always has to come in and give them what you are fighting against. Story of my life.

    • The Bearded Iris

      It’s their reason for living, isn’t it?! Payback’s a bitch and then you die. Nice.

  4. Catherine

    I am teaching school 1/2 time and taking my yoga teacher training. We just got through a flurry of rehearsals and 3 Nutcracker performances with my dancing girl. It’s her B’day this week (insert crazed fake Mommy smile)! My friends are posting on Facebook how their homes are decorated and pressies wrapped and baking done and AAAAAAAAAAH!!! I’m supposed to be doing all of that AND pulling off a fab Harry Potter Birthday party for a bunch of semi-cynical 10-year-old girls. AND my ‘good’ friend is pressuring me into a cookie exchange!! WTF!
    ANYway, I saw your elf tweets last week and I was curious so I looked it up online. I thought: NO WAY, JOSΓ‰!!! But then, I read your awesome blog and you got me: “…a reason to slow down a little and have a moment of fun with my kids every day.” That is precisely what I need to do right now. And (pardon me for copying): if the little guy has the knife, at least I won’t be wielding it!

    • The Bearded Iris

      OMG, I hear you. Every time I hear Andy Williams sing “It’s the MOST. Wonderful Time. Of the Year,” I want to veer into oncoming traffic. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas, but I can’t take the stress of all the things I need to do. And the added pressure of the Facebook Bragging Brigade? Bitch, please.


      Actually, you don’t have to unfriend… you can just choose to not see their updates. That’s probably the nicer way to do it. Hang in there honey. And just say no to the cookie exchange. Or say yes, and bake some super easy Christmas Vulvas. xoxo!

      • Linda

        Hee hee! If you do, give the vulvas lots of red hots. The others will think they’re holly berries, and you can snicker into your drink.

        • The Bearded Iris

          Brilliant! Nothing like a little Holiday Theme Vajazzle action! Oooh, how about a mini mistletoe to hang front and center?! Get it?! Get it?! πŸ˜‰

  5. Kim at Let Me Start By Saying

    OMG, Dobbie with the knife should be your holiday card next year. Seriously.

    Also? I love your mom.

    And? As you know, I haven’t been motivated to do much with “Sporticus” the elf this year. He comes to the same exact spot every morning this month so far, because, according to me, He Likes It There.

    But maybe when I’m feeling better, I’ll get a bit more creative.

    We should totally have a “Where Has Your Elf Been?” linky, just to see which of us can do the most effed-up things with our elf. You in?

    • The Bearded Iris

      I’m in. We can’t be the only ones.

      Love the “he likes it there” excuse. Gonna use that one for sure! Thanks Kim!

  6. Meili

    I’m so afraid of these creepy little bastards, I’ve had to stop looking at some of my friends’ FB pages, for fear of what their demonic little visitors might be up to… and then, YOU post this freaky sh!t, Iris! Geez! A toy with a meat cleaver?!?

    My kids have had to live without a lot of things so far in their childhoods, (sparkly stinky boots, semi monthly trips to the indoor water park, Disneyland, PG-13 movies) and this is just another one for their lists. I tell myself I’m providing job security for the mental health professionals of the future. (“My mother never loved me. She wouldn’t get me an Elf on the Shelf!!!”)

    Maybe if I drink more this Christmas, I’ll feel more festive/less fearful, and I’ll be able to get my kids an elf. I’ll get to work on that right away.

    • The Bearded Iris

      I’ll drink to that. Cheers!

  7. Kristen

    Creepy much?? I’ve heard of these things but I did not know they were so violent… I guess I should have believed my niece last year when she broke all the dishes and said the elf made her do it.


    • The Bearded Iris

      Totally creepy. Believe your niece. Actually, I think the Elves are only as creepy as their homeowners. πŸ™‚

  8. Pricilla - Famous SpokesGoat

    The publicist says she is old and has never heard of the elf. She thinks she is glad.

    Me, I am afraid of that big knife. I do not want to be dinner! :0

  9. Kathryn Frost

    I love Christmas. I love everything about it, even the stress and the ridiculous albums I force the children to listen to for a solid month. The Bieb’s new album is legit. Just ask me and my almost 12 year old daughter.

    Also, suuuuuuper glad my kids are too old for this stupid elf. Though I am SO GLAD to hear you got forced into it and there IS a way NOT to sprinkle glitter and fucking sugar all over the place. Keep it up πŸ™‚

    • The Bearded Iris

      I love Christmas too! We went to have “Breakfast with Santa” last weekend at my church and when Santa walked in, I cried. True story.

  10. Heather

    Why must you ALWAYS make me defile my granny panties?!?! OMG. If I piss my pants one more time they are gonna put me in a home (but at least I won’t have to cook and [minimally] clean anymore)…

    Our Elf’s name is “Freddy”. He currently resides in an old shoe passed on from a cousin that doesn’t fit anyone in our house just yet. Right now he is stuffed into an armoire because he scares the kids when he “stares” at them from the special shelf Mommy worked so diligently to cut and install in the corner of the wall for him to sit on…. Little ingrates. πŸ˜‰

    • The Bearded Iris

      OMG, love that Freddy scares the kids. DON’T show them Dobbie with the meat cleaver!

  11. Kate

    First of all, “My kids clean their rooms in exchange for the best prize of all: the opportunity to continue living here.” Love it! My son asked for allowance for cleaning his room and doing his chores and I said that was fine, but then he’d be getting a bill for every meal and would have to pay rent which wouldn’t include utilities (separate bills…) He opted for no allowance.

    I’ve not gotten intot he Elf on a Shelf, but really because Grandma bought my children these wooden Advent calendars (http://www.yonderstar.com/wooden1.html). What a PITA. The kids love waking up to see what the elves left them every night (they can’t be filled at the beginning, because they will open all the doors at once…) Some nights the elves forget to come… and then there’s heartbreak. SOmetimes Santa leaves notes (it’s become an involved process)… Ugh. But, I know that one day the magic will be gone, and when it is, I’ll be disappointed and sad.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Wow – that’s beautiful! We’ve never had an Advent calendar like that for the same reason: too much work for me. PITA is right! Thanks for the props about my hard-line parenting. LOL! πŸ™‚

  12. Shannon

    Good thing your elf recognizes the economic impact of Christmas and drinks Iron City beer! He could be requesting a Yuengling or a Dos Equis!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Ha! Well, I’m from “The ‘Burgh,” so that’s my beer of choice, regardless of the economy. Do love me some Yuengling too… also from PA! πŸ™‚

      • Heather

        DUDE!!! Us Mainers have a hard time scoring the Yuengling!!! You interested in mulling that sh*t up here for us?!? (Be careful where you hide the bottles though…) We can’t get it up here but have relatives in PA and we REQUIRE that they bring at least a case when we see them!!!

  13. FiveOGrrl

    Dobbie needs to place fake poo in their stockings. He needs to be introduced to Barbie… I heard she loves pretty boys with naughty streaks.

    • The Bearded Iris

      There will be fake poo. Count on it.

  14. Heather

    Oh my, I am laughing! I had a friend post that their elves (one for each kid. Do her children misbehave that badly?!?!?) decorated the Christmas tree with the kids’ underwear.

    My youngest was 6 or so the first time I heard about the elf. Oldest was 11. I decided this was one tradition we didn’t need to do. The younger 2 saw Elf stuff at TH bookstore this weekend and asked about it. I told them the whole spiel and they have declared the elf to be “stalkerish”. I’m glad they didn’t want one.

  15. bernie bickers

    1) Hanukkah Harry prefers trolls to elves
    2) Please tell me that’s the cleaver I got you from your wedding registry!
    Happy Holidays!

    • The Bearded Iris

      You know it, homeslice. Meat cleaver: the gift that keeps on giving.

  16. Livin In Duckville

    That frickin’ elf creeps me out. So glad my kids are too old for it! Although, I’m sure IF we had had one, he would have gotten forgotten more times than not…. Sorta like that damn tooth fairy that forgets to show up!!

  17. Karen

    I looked at these to purchase for my own grandchildren, but this Nana is too cheap to spend $39 each for 2 families for this ugly elf. I think I raised my kids right & they can just do what your Mom did & tell their kids to straighten the hell up or Santa ain’t coming! People will sell you anything to make a buck! And the buck stops here!

  18. Angie K.

    I hear you on forgetting to move him every day…Today the elf (our guy doesn’t have a name, we are boring) was still on top of the candy jar. My 7 y.o. still wouldn’t open the candy jar because of the elf. Heck, I think I will leave him there all December!
    Thanks for the laughs, as usual.

  19. Tiffany

    We just got our Elf (Buddy—see you’re not the only original one!) and the kids love it. I think my husband is more excited about it than I am. So far he’s come up with all the ideas. And the ceiling fan idea? That’s what I have planned for tomorrow!!!

  20. Allison @ Motherhood, WTF?

    I caved on the elf thing this year. Actually, my kids didn’t know anything about it, never heard of it. The only person I caved to was myself. I really wanted one but just couldn’t bring myself to spend $25 for the set. Until I did. L named him Johnny and both kids love finding him every morning. It’s a nice little start to the day. In fact, it’s a nice end of the day too. Hubs and I hide him right before we go to bed, giddy with how hard it will be for the kids to find him. Then the kids are so delighted in the morning. I’ve completely drunk the elf kool-aid. But I’m running out of out-of-reach hiding places!

    • The Bearded Iris

      I know – the hiding/posing is the best part! I am shocked at how much fun I’m having with this creepy little MFer this year. #twisted

  21. Bella

    Wait a minute, Dobbie’s my self imposed nickname! I resort to using it when I’m being taken for granted and need to remind certain family members that “I’m not your bloody house elf!” Great post and hilarious photos!

    • The Bearded Iris

      It’s a cute nickname, especially for an underappreciated Mom. I was kinda hoping my kids would name our Elf something a little more interesting like Sir Poopsalot or Chuckie or Antonio Sabado Junior.

  22. MamaBearJune

    Oh, that is SO something that would happen in our house. Example: there’s a “To Do List” wipe off board on the fridge that currently says:
    Collect organs
    Make pies

    I love having twisted children. They are now 23 and 22. πŸ˜€

    • The Bearded Iris

      OMG – that list made me snort my coffee through my nose. Your kids sound like a lot of fun! Good job, MamaBear.

  23. Mel

    This brings me to the Twilight Zone where the little girls doll keeps threatening to kill her father. Cuh-reepy! AND delightful.

  24. Lauren (@MommyBreakdown)

    You’re making me want to get this dumb thing. I am holding out at least one more year. I mean, it actually sounds kind of fun, but I am not prepared to explain what an elf is and why we need to pay attention to it to my 1 and 3 year olds. I just got the hang of the whole Jesus is not Santa and Santa is not Jesus thing. Elves seem more like a 4 year old thing. Or a 5 year old thing if I don’t feel like doing it next year either.

  25. BJ

    “Jeep” is in the drawer…and my daughter is driving me NUTS about bringing him out…and then they go and make the movie about the elves….But this helped a lot!!!
    LOVED IT!!!!!

  26. Meredith Tomasulo

    love this post – I am on the love Elf side of things – my 3 year old definitely gets it and I am having so much fun with him, the Elf I mean. wonder what he will do tonight?

  27. Alexis

    Not sure if you’ve already seen this but these Elf on Shelf (and other places) pictures made me pee a little…


  28. Lori

    Dobbie creeps me out. No way in hell one of those things in coming into my house. Reminds me of freaky creepy clowns. Ugg!!

  29. Erin

    OMG, I laughed so hard I cried!!! Thank you for giving me a good belly,ab tightening laugh today. Hope you get ten good laughs in return;) Found you thru HouseTalkN, love that Kerry!

4 Pingbacks

  1. The Elf on the Marriage Counselor’s Shelf | The Bearded Iris
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