Friday, March 18, 2011

No Room For Doubters

Every year we try catching a leprechaun and every year we barely miss him.

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There's always something wrong with the trap. One year the little guy chewed his way through the back; another time, the latch didn't close quite right. Last year we even put sleeping powder in his beer--his root beer--but that didn't work either.  All we caught was a hat and a necklace.  There were some cute little footprints leading across the kitchen table though (courtesy of a doll shoe.)  But I thought I've made a pretty convincing case.  They've seen footprints and caught a hat! 

Even though I'd done a good job of deceiving them, this year The Scribe and The Hippie (my two oldest daughters) decided leprechauns aren't real.  The Scribe looked at me and said, "You're the leprechaun." That's blasphemy in this house especially since Cade is half Irish. So, I thought long and hard while they were at school.  I remembered Jesus' first miracle and came up with a plan.

Do you remember Jesus' first miracle?  It's in John Ch. 2.  It might be my favorite miracle other than when He died on the cross and rose again.  The first real act of awesomeness is when Jesus turned water to wine.  Now, that's a trick I'd like to learn.  Wouldn't that be fun to be the son of God and then go turn water into wine?  I think it was a nice choice.  Maybe church shouldn't be as stiff as some people think!

So, with that thought in mind, I went to the grocery store.  I couldn't find anything worth buying though.  The girls' had already made their trap out of an old box.  They put his hat in there, knowing that if he was real, he'd want his hat back.  That's when I saw the rolls.  They were perfect.  I snatched up a couple packages from the deli and made up a story to tell my kids.  Later that night, after we set the trap, I told my kids the tale.

Here's the trap (The Scribe insisted that IF leprechauns are real, they love sparklers and The Hippie said they live off of shamrock cookies):
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I closed all the curtains and turned off the lights.  Then we plugged a nightlight into the wall.  The sun still faintly shone in the East side of our house as we sat around the trap.  I whispered to my four children.  "We can talk now.  When the sun first kisses the horizon, the leprechauns can't hear us until the sun's all the way down!"

Those two doubters' eyes grew with fascination.  My one and two-year-old even seemed intrigued.  "Once upon a time," I said.  "There lived a young Irish lad who didn't believe.  But just to test his theory, he wrote a note and set a trap that had a fresh roll inside; leprechauns love rolls!  But even though it was the best trap ever made, when the boy woke up the next morning, he realized he hadn't caught a thing.  The only item left in the trap was the pen he'd written the note with.

"Now that boy picked up the pen and found something peculiar about it.  The thing had changed from an ebony black to an emerald green!"

My girls' gasped.  "Why did it change colors, Mama?" The Hippie asked.  "Maybe leprechauns do like rolls."

"Well, we'd find out if you'd stop asking questions," The Scribe said.

"But that's the first question I've asked.  You make it sound like I'm interrupting every two seconds."

"Well it seems like you are.  Mama just started the story and now you won't quit talking!"

I cleared my throat.  They're the best of friends who can fight over anything!  "So, the little boy, knowing something strange was afoot, decided to test the pen on the paper.  He guided his hand closer, closer to the corner of his note, but when the pen touched the paper's edge, something miraculous happened.  Like a ripple, moving from the very tip of the pen, the entire paper turned green!"

"Cool!" The Hippie said.

"The little boy grabbed the note.  He shook it mid-air.  But no matter how hard he stared and willed it to be normal again, the thing remained green.  It was real!  That's when he got an idea; maybe the pen could turn anything green.  He touched the inky tip against the hardwood floor and sure enough, the entire floor rippled and the boy imagined he was on a magic carpet!  Then the floor became a wave of green, moving and writhing as the boy sat on it.  He felt mystified even as the floor stopped and went back to it's natural shape.  He stared at it then because it remained a dark green."

"His Mama is gonna be so mad!" The Scribe said.  "Won't she be?"

I laughed and nodded.  "Maybe, but that's not how the story goes."

"The boy walked over to the wall, deciding it might be fun to turn the flowered wallpaper green, but when he put the pen's tip next to the rosy paper, something different happened."  I paused and looked at each of them.  I couldn't believe even my two-year-old wanted more of the story.

"So?" The Hippie asked.  "Didn't the wall turn green?"

"Oh, no," I said.  "When the pen touched the wall, a little door appeared.  It was about this high."  I held my hand next to my knee.  "It was a beautiful door, the kind a tiny king would use.  The door knob was made of gold, pure gold.  

"The little boy knelt down and felt around the edges of the door.  The wood was smooth and perfect.  He wanted nothing more than to open that door, but felt something dangerous rested beyond it.

"He looked at it for a long time, thinking about what he should do.  It wasn't until he heard his mother coming that he truly decided to act on his curiosity.  He was much too big to simply walk through, but thought if he wriggled on his belly, he might fit.  So, as his mother's footsteps came closer, he put the pen in his pocket and grabbed the doorknob.

"His mother's steps echoed down the hall.  The noise accentuated the beating of his heart.  He twisted the doorknob and as he pulled, his skin began turning green.  He shrunk getting smaller and smaller.  He nose and ears became pointy and his mouth and eyes smiled with mischief.  His clothes turned into a velvet suit and a golden watch's chain hung from his pocket.  The boy skipped through the door, to where the sound of fiddling pervaded the air and the gleaming of timeless treasure shone.

"You see, that boy had turned into a leprechaun.  And he loves being a leprechaun so much that now he visits people who build traps for St. Patty's day.  He only visits a few houses a year, but always leaves a clue so kids will know he's the one who visited them."

"What's the clue?" The Hippie asked eagerly.

"No one knows.  No one except those he's visited."

My kids went to sleep after that.  They were so excited I can't even tell you.  

This is what they saw when they woke up:
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"Mama," The Hippie squealed.  "Look.  I think that boy visited us.  You know, the boy that walked through the door and turned into a leprechaun."

"Yeah," The Scribe said.  "He turned the bread green and even gave us more.  Oh my gosh!  Even the straw, that held the trap up, is green!"

"But, the flap's closed!  Maybe we caught him!"  The Hippie moved closer and when she opened the trap she beamed with so much amazement I nearly laughed with happiness.  "He left us a sign!  It was the guy you told us about."

"How do you know?" I asked.

"Because,"  The Scribe said.  "He left us a magical green pen!"

Maybe I'm horrible for keeping this belief alive.  Maybe my girls will want to pummel me when they find out I was the leprechaun.  Either way, I'm glad they had a great St. Patty's day this year.  And I'm thankful the grocery store still sells green rolls!