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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

The Gift Grift That Keeps On Giving

(What’s going on this week in the land of Secondhand SCIENCE, you ask? Good question!

This time around, we’re digging into the Mpemba effect, where the cold side stays cold and the hot side stays… even colder, as it turns out. It’s all kinds of freaky. Check it out.)

Hey, parents!

You had a great fall and winter this year, thanks to your “elf on the shelf” putting the fear of a coal-stuffing Santa into your little brat or impette. They were on their very best behavior — at least when you or the elf doll were in the room. And that’s great!

But now Christmas is over. The kids scored all their swag, and that little elf puppet has lost all sway over the heathens now.

(Oh sure, you can tell them, “Santa keeps an eye on you all year.

But they know old Crotchety Kringle — read: you — will forget all the unspeakable shit they do before summer, at least. This isn’t their first North Pole rodeo, there, skipper.)

So what’s an overbearing Mom or Dad to do? How to point your spawn in the right direction and teach them valuable lessons about guilt and shame and modern surveillance culture, when the “money” holiday is fifty-one weeks away?

Never fear, ya nagging nanny ninnies. Christmas may be out of play again for a few months, but there are still an army of holiday watchdogs you can employ to instill paranoia and anxiety in all of your offspring. And you can have fun doing it! Check out these “elf on the shelf” out-of-season replacements:

Baby Cupid on the Stoop(id)

You don’t want your kids thinking “love is in the air” on Valentine’s Day; what the hell good would that do them? Plop this disapproving cherub on your front stoop in early February to make your children ask themselves:

“Am I really worthy of love?” (Hint: no. And tie your damned shoe, kid.)

“Will I ever find someone who understands me?” (Yep, two of ’em: “Jack” and “Daniels”.)

“Where’s my ‘fairy tale ending’?” (Probably at the back of an Edgar Allan Poe story.)

You’ll be lucky if the kids make it past this thing to get into the house. And you’re welcome.

Leprechaun on the “Ottomaun”

Assuming the kids do make it inside (by March), greet them with this scowling Irish mascot on their favorite living room footrest. It’ll be a constant reminder that if they’re not good, they won’t get any of the great things associated with St. Patrick’s Day:

Green beer

Drunken hookups

Drunken breakups

Drunken cockfights (both kinds)

Various green bodily fluids

Potato famines

Shillelagh spanking (both kinds)

The absence of snakes

You tell ’em misbehavin’ wee children get no beer, a mug full of vipers and all the potatoes they can eat. And they’ll have to spank their own shillelaghs. That’ll put the fear o’ the blarney into ’em.

Ash on the Dash

What better way to make children feel deep pangs of remorse around Arbor Day than to mount an uprooted, slowly dying ash sapling on the dashboard of your car? That way, when they’ve finally pestered you into yet another ride to soccer practice or business school or the emergency room, you can lecture them (again) about how all the vehicle emissions they’re causing are killing the environment.

And all because they just had to get some exercise or break a femur or apply to Wharton. Selfish jerks.

(Note: You might have thought this one would be a reference to Ash Wednesday, and dumping ashes all over your car to guilt your kids into something. But no, for three reasons:

1. It’s your car. Those children don’t give a shit how dirty it is. They’ve been flicking boogers in the back seat since before they could hold their goddamned heads upright.

2. The Christian holidays are generally terrible for this sort of treatment, because they’re already about guilt and feeling awful in the first place. What would you even withhold from a “bad” kid on Ash Wednesday? Dirtying up his face and hearing he basically nailed some carpenter to bunch of his own wood, probably? Don’t miss that special moment, Mom and Dad.

3. If you really want to hit ’em where it hurts, faith-based edition, hold out for Easter and plant the …)

“And what are they doing in the medicine cabinet, anyway? Looking for mouthwash to huff? Licking all the pregnancy test strips?”

Praying Rabbit in the Medicine Cabinet

This’ll straighten the rugrats out in all sorts of ways. And what are they doing in the medicine cabinet, anyway? Looking for mouthwash to huff? Licking all the pregnancy test strips? Swapping grandpa’s pain poppers with his pecker pills?

The rabbit sees all of this. And the rabbit doesn’t approve. No Cadbury eggs for naughty kids this year.

Also, he’ll be a constant reminder of the “true meaning” of Easter, which apparently doesn’t involve posting pics of the largest number of marshmallow Peeps you can stuff into your mouth at once.

Instead, it’s about how children once nailed baby rabbit Jesus to a chocolate cross or something, or forsook him for a bowl of Trix. Which is part of a balanced breakfast, so you can kind of see the kids’ side on this one, actually.

Whatever line you feed them, just make sure they know if they don’t keep their noses clean, they’ll be getting no Easter baskets or goodies this year.

And they’ll have to keep those noses clean without the Afrin nasal spray, because that’s in the medicine cabinet — and baby Jesus bunny rabbit is watching you in there, mister.

Bottle Rocket in the Pocket

All kids love fireworks. And good kids — if such a beast even exists, and experts have their doubts, I hear — should get to watch the beautiful fireworks displays lighting up the night on the Fourth of July.

The bad kids, not so much. They should be under constant surveillance, and ceremonially marched blindfolded away from the festivities if found undeserving of the holiday splendor. That’s the deal. (Or should be. Stupid child blindfolding laws.)

How to remind children of this arrangement? Send them out on summer mornings with a live firecracker in the pocket of their pants. And not only is it topical; if they come back one day with the bottle rocket missing or exploded or without several of their fingers, then you’ll know they succumbed to temptation and lit it. No Independence Day for them this year. Them’s the breaks, Stumpy.

Candy Wrapper on the Crapper

Finally, if you really want to scare your kids into submission, you’ll mess with their second-favorite holiday: Halloween. And your “monitor” for this holiday couldn’t be more on the money — or easier, or cheaper. Simply buy a piece of candy, eat it, and leave the empty wrapper sitting on your bathroom toilet.

The kids who see it will get the message — namely, screw up this fall, and all your Trick or Treat treats are getting flushed down the commode. You can Hershey kiss those sweets goodbye, short of some major-league seasonal parental ass-kissing, bub. We’re talking real von Trapp-level horseshit here. Yeah.

And leading up to the night, that strategically placed wrapper is all you need to remind the boys and girls in the house to straighten up, fly right and Auf Wiedersehen their asses off, if they want to see any goodies in October.

Plus, you get to eat candy — quite possibly while figuratively taking it away from a baby. Talk about a holiday! What could be better than that?

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Me on Film 'n' Stage:
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