I can’t for the life of me remember why I bought the damn thing in the first place. I’m not one to succumb to parenting trends or do anything that is Pinterest worthy, for that matter. The only reason I can think of for making such a purchase is that (as anyone who knows me can confirm) I possess an exceptional personality trait known as the “fear of missing out.” This typically manifests itself in things like the inability to decline an invitation, staying out until the drinking establishment tells me to leave, or hosting late night Catch Phrase until the sun comes up. Apparently, this fear also extends to missing out on an opportunity to entertain my children by completely fucking with them.
Whatever the reason, I picked up the box set at Target last December, complete with hardcover book, CD, and an elf, whose creepy little face clearly screams, “I just defecated on your pillow. Now give me a lollipop.” Upon arriving home, I handed the elf to my 2-year-old daughter and asked her what she wanted to name it (Facebook had informed me that this was the first step). I was expecting her to be ecstatic and name it something super creative like Elf or Elfie or Poophead… but instead she just looked at it very judgingly and walked away. This is the first sign that this may not have been the best idea.
Then I proceeded to read the elf’s “story.” Ugggggghhhhhh… seriously? Can’t we just call it Poophead and play hide-and-seek with it every morning? This is becoming way too much work.
The Elf on the Shelf® is a special scout elf sent from the North Pole to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice lists. When a family adopts an elf and gives it a name, the elf receives its Christmas magic and can fly to the North Pole each night to tell Santa Claus about all of the day’s adventures. Each morning, the elf returns to its family and perches in a different place to watch the fun. Children love to wake up and race around the house looking for their elf each morning.
Wait…. WHAAAAAAAT??? You’re telling me I just voluntarily allowed a fucking Santa spy into my house? Since when is a fictional man who “knows when you’ve been bad or good” and posts selfies on Coke cans not enough to scare kids straight?
That shit doesn’t work anyway. Trust me, I actually have kids. For one thing, you rarely need to resort to the “Santa won’t give you presents” level. That punishment definitely does NOT fit the crimes that most children of Santa-believing age are committing. “I’ll turn this car around,” “No dessert,” and “No coins in the bathtub tonight” are WAY more effective at correcting behavior anyway. They’re also about a million times less likely to fuck them up than telling them that an old, fat man with a beard who hangs out in every mall on the goddamn planet is watching them 24/7.
PLUS, kids are smart. They know you’re bluffing. Has there ever been a parent in existence who, after spending hundreds of dollars on presents that will surely bring joy and lifelong memories to their child, on Christmas morning decides, “You know what? Fuck that kid. He was being a complete dick to his sister the other day. And I’m pretty sure he stole my lip gloss from my purse. Honey, where do we keep the charcoal?” And if you have done that, then give yourself a pat on the back, my friend, because that shit is HILARIOUS.
But somehow the Santa threat (and it is a threat) is not enough. Now we’re going to add in another character that will fail just as miserably at getting our kids to behave and simultaneously CREEP THEM THE FUCK OUT. I prefer to actually teach my kids about things like right and wrong, how to be resilient when they mess up (which we all do), and that “bad” is a way less disturbing word than “naughty.” This would be the second sign that this may not have been the best purchase. “This” being that the Elf on the Shelf is the exact opposite of my parenting philosophy.
I think that’s reason enough to send it immediately into the trashcan (or is it recyclable?), but I had already taken the damn thing out of the box and showed it to my daughter who, despite her initial disinterest, would have known and somehow started caring. So I continued reading:
There are two simple rules that every child knows when it comes to having an elf. First, an elf cannot be touched; Christmas magic is very fragile and if an elf is touched it may lose that magic and be unable to fly back to the North Pole. Second, an elf cannot speak or move while anyone in the house is awake! An elf’s job is to watch and listen.
Well, fuck it. I already handed her the damn thing. Magic gone. I couldn’t have explained that one away even if I tried. Three strikes and you’re out.
"So what became of Poophead?" you ask. I tossed him in a box with a bunch of other crap that my daughters don’t play with and put it back on the bookshelf. I guess he is still technically the Elf on the Shelf, but that means that we also have a Harmonica on the Shelf, a Broken Sunglasses on the Shelf, a Where-the-Hell-Did-this-Barbie-Come-From on the Shelf, and, well, you get the picture.
I still love what I thought was its original purpose, which was pure creativity and entertainment with a holiday theme. Like how my parenting idols have created the tradition of Dinovember. That is awesome. And it is passionate. And the shear effort and playfulness and commitment tell you that is a house that is filled with love. And I guarantee you that their kids are just as well, if not better, behaved than those who think a polyester fiber, Made in China tattle-tale is reporting back to Santa every night. Leave the stuffed toys for fun, and let the grown-ups do the parenting.
Hint: I have big plans for this cat. Her name is Sarah. Get excited.
Here is my latest post for Fort Worth Moms Blog, where I give my husband due credit for handling our first nightmare situation like a champ.
Here’s my first post as a contributor for Fort Worth Moms Blog!
Like many people (I’m assuming), I haven’t taken any time out of my busy work/ mommy/ Facebooking/ wine drinking
/ meth manufacturing schedule to actually think about my stance on the name of the Washington Redskins. My view has been, “That’s always been their name, no one seems to really mind, and anyone who does mind is just too sensitive or pressing their über-annoying PC agenda.” And after that 1.5 seconds of thought, I would return to my super-important game of Words with Friends.
I have successfully avoided reading any Facebook posts on the issue. I intentionally gloss over news stories that show up on my homepage. I even switched the channel before Bob Costas went off on this topic during Sunday Night Football this week.
But for some reason, I decided to read Redskins owner Dan Snyder’s recent letter to Washington fans (which I encourage all of you to read before proceeding)… and this caused my stubborn, indifferent attitude to “make like a tree… and get the f*** out of here!”* And the second I was able to let go of my preconceived notions and actually THINK about it, I got so fired up that I had to sit down and start writing immediately. The extent of research I have done on the subject has been limited to Dan Snyder’s letter and some online fact-checking, but I now firmly believe that the Washington, DC professional football team should change its name,and here’s why.
1. The word “Redskins” literally describes “the color of their skin”… which we don’t do anymore, guys.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Where else is it acceptable to label a person or group BASED ON THE COLOR OF THEIR SKIN? The term for this is “color terminology,” and at its extreme, “colorism.” If you were to be talking about an encounter with a Native American and used phrases like, “I was hanging out with this Redskin the other day,” or, “I bought some beautiful jewelry from this Redskin in New Mexico,” people would think you were a racist piece of sh**.
But it’s somehow okay for a professional sports team? Because, according to Dan Snyder, people associate the term “Redskin” with “honor?”
The name was never a label. It was, and continues to be, a badge of honor.
- Dan Snyder, in a letter to Redskins fans, October 2013
Oh, REALLY, Daniel?!?!?! Have you ever seen a ping-pong** team called the Whities? Or a ski team called the Yellowskins? Do you know why not? Because it’s completely f*ing racist! But the name Washington Redskins is somehow okay? Yeah, whenever I hear ethnic slurs, the first word that comes to my mind is “honor,” too. Which brings me to my next point…
2. If you want a “badge of honor,” try choosing ANYTHING BUT AN ETHNIC SLUR.
[The name Redskins] symbolizes courage, dignity, and leadership. Redskins symbolize the greatness and strength of a grand people.
- Karl Swanson, former Redskins Senior VP of Public Relations and Douchebaggery, in a 1992 Sports Illustrated article in response to a lawsuit of seven Native American tribes surrounding the team name
Not only is the term “Redskin” considered an ethnic slur, it also does not speak to a single one of the positive Native American characteristics that dear Karl mentions. It’s just a blanket term that describes the slightly redder skin tone of the American Indian in direct comparison to the “white man.” If you’re going for the whole “honor” angle, maybe try a little harder? And by “a little harder” I mean “AT ALL.” Here is a list of possible team names to get you started:
3. The former owner who chose the name Redskins was a known segregationist.
As some of you may know, our team began 81 years ago — in 1932 — with the name “Boston Braves.” The following year, the franchise name was changed to the “Boston Redskins. On that inaugural Redskins team, four players and our Head Coach were Native Americans.
- Dan Snyder, in a letter to Redskins fans, October 2013
While Snyder makes it unclear in his letter as to why the name of the team changed, it was most likely to avoid confusion between the Boston Braves, the football team, and the Boston Braves, the baseball team. (Seriously, why has this happened more than once in professional sports?)
What he makes even less clear is why it was changed to Redskins specifically. Saying that “four players and the Head Coach were Native American” is the same logic behind people who say “It’s okay if I drop the N-word because I have a black friend.” Oh, Daniel, you condescending d***.
And guess what? (If your guess isn’t “the former owner who chose the name Redskins was a known segregationist,” then thanks for glossing over my carefully-crafted section headers, a-hole.) That’s right, George Preston Marshall, Redskins owner, was known as “the leading racist in the NFL.” And I’m pretty sure that’s saying a lot in the 1930s. Evidence? He refused to sign a single black player until the government threatened to revoke the lease on RFK Stadium in 1962.
Now, I don’t know about you, but if… let’s say… Don Imus… or Paula Deen… were to gain ownership of a sports team and then change its name to the Redskins, I would think, “Hey, that’s a little f***ed up.”
AND you know that Native American head coach that he was referring to? You got it! Good ol’ "Lone Star" Dietz. Well, he may not actually be Native American after all. The FBI even found that he stole the identity of a deceased Indian American man. And good ol’ Dan Snyder still uses him as an example of why the Redskins name is totally okay.
Congratulations, Daniel. Way to carry on the tradition of douchebaggery and self-importance that your super-racist and delusional predecessors laid out for you. Now speaking of tradition…
4. In no way does this football team help preserve Native American culture.
[This is] an attempt by somebody … to completely remove the Indian identity from anything and pretty soon … you have a wipeout in society of any reference to Indian people … You can’t rewrite history…
- Robert Green, the longtime and recently retired Chief of the Fredericksburg-area Patawomeck Tribe, as quoted by Dan Snyder in his letter to Redskins fans
REALLY?! Preserving the name of a football team that was established in the 20th century for the purpose of entertaining fans by playing football is what is going to preserve Native American culture? You know what else does this exact thing? MUSEUMS AND HISTORY BOOKS!!! We’re talking about changing the name of a f***ing for-profit American football team here, not tearing down the National Museum of the American Indian.
And you think that this name change would be a step towards the removal of the Indian identity from EVERYTHING? I bet you also think that Tylenol is a gateway drug to the use of crystal meth. This is just a GAME played by poorly-coached, very large boys, trying to get an awkwardly-shaped ball from one end of the field to the other… while other, larger boys are trying to prevent them from doing so by man-handling them to the ground. Yeah, the Native American community would suffer a HUGE loss from the very accurate and memorable history lesson taught to us each Sunday by these overgrown kids and the drunk, belligerent, and (likely) obese fans that cheer them on.
And, Mr. Green, do you know what information I found regarding the “Indian identity” or “reference to Indian people” on the Official Site of the Washington Redskins? NOTHING! No reference to the origin of the Redskins name in the team’s history; no tribute to the American Indian anywhere; no community awareness or educational programs aimed at preserving the Native American culture.
You know who does a FANTASTIC job at preventing “a wipeout in society of any reference to Indian people?” Miami University of Ohio. You know what their mascot used to be? The Redskins. You know what it is now? The Redhawks. Take a look at their website and see what preservation of Native American culture actually looks like. It’s not a derogatory name; it’s not an image of an Indian American on a football helmet. It’s the history, the story, the mission. So I want you to think long and hard about this question: What has the Washington Redskins organization really done for the Native American people (other than give its fans heartburn during football season)?
Dan Snyder and the Washington PR team, take note. THIS is what you do when you claim to inspired by the “same values [you] know guide Native Americans and which are embedded throughout their rich history as the original Americans,” especially if you name your team after those people. Maybe even consider an outreach program or at least a fundraising event aimed at preservation of the Indian American. Because right now all you have is rhetoric, and I’m not buying it.
5. Using the term “Redskin” may not be offensive to many Native Americans, but it’s offensive to me as a modern-day American citizen.
The highly respected Annenberg Public Policy Center polled nearly 1,000 self-identified Native Americans from across the continental U.S. and found that 90% of Native Americans did not find the team name “Washington Redskins” to be “offensive.”
- Dan Snyder, in a letter to Redskins fans, October 2013
In my “research” on this topic, those who vehemently oppose the name change cite various studies or personal testimonies showing that a very small percentage of Native Americans finds the word Redskin offensive. In fact, many see it as an honorable label and sport the team name with pride.***
HOWEVER, this is not the sentiment across the board. Now, I’m not of the school of thought that if you offend one person, you have to stop doing it. That’s just ridiculous.There are people out there who look to find offense in every minor thing… and there’s no way we’re giving those dumdums the power. I’m talking about the Indian tribes that have sued the Redskins organization over the years, or the thousands that have protested at their games. Their voices needs be heard and not quashed by statistics showing how un-offended people are. (This is not the same thing as bending to the every will of protesters. I’m just talking about considering their point of view, so simmer down.)
So what is the question here? Is it really a question of the extent to which people are actually offended by the term Redskins? That’s the approach that proponents of keeping the name have taken. That we have much bigger problems to face in this country, so why are we wasting our time with this? That if most people aren’t offended by it, why is it a big deal? Rick Reilly, a sports writer for ESPN, has taken this stance:
White America has spoken. You aren’t offended, so we’ll be offended for you.
But that’s not how I see it. To me, this is less of a question about who is or is not directly offended. To me, the issue is that we have come leaps and bounds over the decades towards becoming a country that values civil rights, that values diversity, that values inclusion, that values progress… yet we find it perfectly acceptable to idolize, shout at the top of our lungs, and sport on our clothing a word that is the direct antithesis of all those things we have been working towards. It is not a question of civil rights or political correctness or stereotypes or personal offense… it is a question of values. And as a modern-day American, this is what I value.
So, Mr. Snyder, how about you hop into the 21st century with the rest of us? You’ll still have your fans and your money and your losing seasons. I know that an organization-wide rebranding effort will likely cost you an a**load of money (and something tells me that this may be the driving factor of this whole mess), but frankly I don’t give a sh**. And I don’t know why you’re so set on keeping this brand, anyway. When I hear the name Washington Redskins, it immediately conjures up words like “horrible management” and “poor coaching” and “bad at football.” This could be a very good thing for you.
So stop sending “heart-felt” letters to pander to the emotions of your fans. Stop using skewed statistics and individual testimonies that support your argument. Stop trying to convince people that changing the name of a football team is equivalent to destroying Native American culture. No one is trying to take away your childhood memories. No one is trying to take away the game. No one is trying to strip you of the pride and courage and strength that you claim to stand for. Change is a good thing… just take it like a man, and embrace it.
Oh, and by the way… SUCK IT!!! Cowboys- 31, Washington Turkeys- 16.
*I heart you, Boondock Saints.
**My bad. I meant to say “table tennis team.” Sorry to offend all the ping-pongs out there.
***I’m not going to go into a detailed discussion about survey methodology here, but suffice it to say that these studies rely very heavily on “self-identification,” so the number of favorable responses is likely inflated.
As usual, a three-year-old is able to explain social phenomena better than any psychologist out there. In this case, it’s sibling rivalry.
Because… well… why the hell not?
And for those of you who were not in their prime impressionable years during the late 80’s/early 90’s, THIS, my friends, is the Nintendo Power Glove:
And to prove that I’m effing serious, here’s one with me in it:
I must say that I’m incredibly thankful that I do not have any more weddings or formal events coming up… because I didn’t exactly think this one through (typical). Suffice it to say that I’ll be getting some interesting reactions from innocent bystanders over the next few weeks, and I promise to share any memorable encounters.
And if you’re jealous, you should be. I am now the proud owner of a Power Glove that is just as functional and useful today as the original, AND I GOT INSURANCE TO PAY FOR IT.
So I find myself crushing on this guy at the coffee shop today who was studying chess strategy… by himself… with a board… and a book. Apparently I have a thing for über chess nerds. Who knew?! In true “me” style, my mind starts to wander, playing out our whole conversation in my head.
Me: Slide on over here, King, so I can castle with you.
Him: Uh… do I know you?
Me: If you let me help out, I can get you to mate in two moves.
Him: <ignores me>
Me: Looks like you just lost your queen. I’d be happy to fill in.
Him: I’m really sorry, but I’m trying to focus over here, <cough> weirdo.
Me: Fine. I’m married, anyway. I’ll save the rest of my sweet lines for him. <flips hair, marches away, trips on own feet and falls on face>