I’d like to take a moment to thank Mrs. M, my son’s 1st grade teacher, for making a liar out of me.  Okay, maybe not for making a liar out of me, but for making me embellish the truth even more than I’ve had to up to this point.  It’s bad enough that I’ve fibbed about Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, but now I gotta juggle the elusive Leprechaun, too?  Give me a break!  I’m a terrible liar!  I’m likely to goof and let the cat (er…leprechaun) out of the bag and cause serious long-term psychiatric damage!

It all began in the weeks leading up to St. Patrick’s Day.  My teenage daughter’s 16th birthday follows closely on the heels of this green-wearing, Irish-speakin’ day.  As one might imagine with a  16th birthday, the talk from her end has been all about wanting a car.  Finally one night at dinner, I had to clear the air.  All this talk about a car was making me uncomfortable because – at this time – we have no plans of supplying one as a birthday gift…and the worst thing I can imagine is a teenage girl seriously surprised (in a bad way) on her 16th birthday.

“Sweetheart, ” I told her at dinner one night, “I’m not trying to be a downer here, but I need to be very sure you understand that there will be no car waiting for you on your birthday.  I know you’re holding out hope, but I need you to not do that because it can’t be done this year and I don’t want your entire birthday ruined because you were hoping to get a car and you get a bicycle or a scooter instead.”

“Seriously?” she asked.  “You’re not just trying to throw me off and make me think that I’m not getting a car when I really am?”

“I’m sorry…I honestly wish that were the case. But no.  There will be no car this year and I need you to come to terms with that now so that you’re not surprised and upset on your birthday.”

Even though, intellectually, she knew she wasn’t getting a car for her birthday, the absolute confirmation that there was no chance was a huge blow and she was obviously upset.  And then in comes Braden with a plan.

“I’ll get you a car, Sister!” he said.  “I’ve got it all planned out!  I’ll have a lemonade stand and sell a whole bunch of lemonade and then I can buy you a car!”

And so it began.  Braden was on a mission.  He was going to buy his sister a car!

For the first day or so, this was pretty cute.  But when my kitchen counter had three layers of crusted-over lemonade mix and every third step there was the dried-up, sticky residue of spilled lemonade, it got old really quick and I had to put a kibosh on the lemonade stand.  And then – about a week before St. Patrick’s Day – Mrs. M stepped in and introduced our boy to the “Lore of the Leprechaun.”

Believing that there’s a group of tiny people running around, wearing all green, and carrying around a pot of gold is almost too much information for a 7-year old boy to handle.  Whatever he’s been told will be exaggerated by 1000%.  And then to have a day dedicated to celebrating these devious little fortune hoarders…well, that’s enough to exacerbate the imagination of an already “creative” little boy.  From this moment on, our house would be one giant Leprechaun trap.

According to Mrs. M, if you catch a leprechaun, then you are entitled to his pot of gold which is enough money to live on extravagantly for the remainder of your life.  What could be more enticing to a clever 7-year old boy than finding a way to get enough money to buy his sister a car and keep him supplied in Nintendo DS games for the remainder of his life?!  The plotting and planning began.

ImgSrc: http://www.todaysphoto.org/picture-of-the-day/loose-change/

Step one:  Lure the Leprechaun. Did you know that leprechauns can’t resist money?  If you leave any lying around, they’re sure to come looking for it to add to their pots of gold.  And so, digging in his stash of cash, Braden retrieved a $5 bill and about $2 in change, which he then scattered in the main hallway of my house between the front door and family room.

“What in the world is this money doing on the floor?” I asked the first time I stepped on it.

“DON’T TOUCH IT!” Braden cried.  “It’s there for the leprechaun!

“Why is it on the floor?” I asked.

“Because the leprechaun is a little guy and he’ll see it best on the floor.”

Ahhh.  Good thinking.   Except that meant that we’d all be stepping on the leprechaun’s “bait” for the next five or six days.

Step  Two:  Fool the Leprechaun.  Braden informed us that it was important that he dress up as a leprechaun for “Leprechaunica Day,” the phrase he coined for this special day.  It was no longer St. Patrick’s Day.  From this day forward, it would be known as “Leprechaunica Day.”  I had to put my foot down on buying a leprechaun costume, but I did give in and buy some green hairspray and a sparkling green derby.  Did y’all know that it’s near impossible to wash green hairspray off of your skin?  Braden has short hair, so much of the hairspray ended up on his scalp.  After much washing on both of our parts, his scalp is still green!

Step Three:  Google to find out what leprechauns eat.   Like Santa, the leprechauns are busy little guys and so they get hungry.  In order to better lure the leprechaun into your home, according to Braden, you must provide them with their favorite nourishment.  I’m a little embarrassed to say that I actually did more than one google search on “What do leprechauns eat” to help Braden with his answer.  Seriously?  Was I beginning to buy into this? Had I lost my freakin’ mind?  According to Wiki Answers,  Leprechauns eat “…brussels sprouts, potato peelings and very fatty bacon, washed down with poteen and diluted Guiness dregs.”  Alternatively, they eat “biscuits, tea, shamrock cookies and lucky charms with milk and rice,” with rice – according to Wiki Answers – being one of the the leprechaun’s favorites.  I told him they preferred cake and milk.

You'll have to imagine the "trap" hanging from the bannister above. I forgot to include it in the picture!

Step Four:  Devise a Plan and Trap the Leprechaun.  And so it is that “Lepreichaunica Day” arrived.  Braden woke up bright and early and brought me the can of green hairspray.  For the remainder of the day, he’d have green hair and sport a sparkly green derby.  The next step was to devise the trap.  Using a box with a small hole cut in the top, Braden rigged a trap consisting of this box hanging from the 2nd-story bannister of our house.  I honestly have no clue how this was supposed to trap the leprechaun, but it looked cool!  The final step, then, was to bake a cake and leave it out at night for the leprechaun to find.  But no – we couldn’t just bake a cake.  It had to be a green cake!  After all, green is the leprechaun’s favorite color!  I did have to put my foot down on leaving it on the floor for the leprechaun!  By explaining that the leprechaun could “hop” from step to step, we were able to compromise by leaving the cake on a step-stool instead of in the middle of the floor.

Step Five – Plan for the Unexpected:  Every good plan has a contingency for the unexpected, and Braden’s was no different.  On the evening of “Leprichaunica Day,” Braden came to me and asked for an empty soda or water bottle.

“What do you need it for?” I asked.

“I’m going to bed soon and I’m going to need it tonight,” he responded simply.

“Okay…but can you tell me for what purpose?”

With a huge sigh, Braden explained.  “I have to stay up all night watching for the leprechaun so I can trap him.  But I might have to go to the bathroom.  If I get up to pee, then I’m likely to miss him while I’m in the bathroom!  So I need a bottle that I can put it in my pants and tape it to my penis.  That way, if I have to go to the bathroom, I won’t have to leave my room and miss the leprechaun.”

Oh my!  The child has seriously given this a lot of thought!  For the record, I had to put my foot down on this one in case it caused any “damage” to his little body.

As I’m sure you can imagine, that elusive leprechaun remains on the lam, leaving Braden nothing for his efforts and no car for his sister.  When all was said and done, our little experiment for “Leprechaunica Day” went something like this:

  • Hair Dye:                                                                  $3.99
  • Derby Hat:                                                                $2.49
  • Cake Mix:                                                                 $1.39
  • Frosting:                                                                    $1.79
  • Green Dye:                                                               $2.39
  • Trapping Box:                                                           Free
  • Time wasted:                                                             A lot
  • Yield:                                                                        Nothing.  Nada. Zip. Zilch.
  • Watching Braden’s Mind at Work:                           Priceless!

In the end, Braden wasn’t as disappointed at not catching the leprechaun as I’d anticipated, and I got a free piece of cake and a glass of milk in the bargain.  After all, if I eat it in the name of the leprechaun, they don’t really count as my calories…right?

There’s still three days until Amber’s 16th birthday.  Anyone wanna make a wager on what he’ll come up with next?