Melissa vs. The Leprechaun
For my daughter Melissa, St. Patrick's Day marks the anniversary of her "terrifying" encounter with a leprechaun. Step back in time with me, if you will, to March 17, 2007. When the aptly-named third grade teacher Miss Green (I am not kidding) read stories about these fabled, feisty Irish fairies to her young charges, Melissa and her friend Sarah became determined to actually catch one of these mischievous munchkins. Even though leprechauns have outwitted generations of trap-setting Irishmen, two nine year old girls were convinced that they, and they alone, would succeed!
As Sarah and Melissa approached the task at hand, they decided the best way to trap a leprechaun would be to turn the bedroom into a "little green man" resort and spa. Steaming hot water helped to transform a soup bowl into a soothing leprechaun hot tub. Construction paper and green crayons invited the leprechaun to express his creativity, while green confetti and Lucky Charms cereal set the celebratory mood. Barbie dolls were dressed in their Sunday best as they sat ready and waiting for the leprechaun to invite them to play, and of course, gold coins aplenty (the chocolate version) were strategically placed in a bowl in the middle of the floor.
As the girls put the finishing touches on the trap, they started having second thoughts about their devious plan. Suddenly, it seemed like trapping the little guy would not be a very nice thing to do. But still, they didn't want their hard work to go to waste. That's when Melissa and Sarah crafted a new plan. If the leprechaun came, he would not have to worry about being duped by two nine-year old girls. Instead, the girls would simply observe him at play while they pretended to be asleep.
With all of the wheels in motion, the only task that remained was to climb into bed and wait.
And while they waited, excitement turned to trepidation, trepidation turned to fear, then fear turned to terror.
What if the leprechaun became evil?
Would he attack them?
Were they safe?
WHAT HAD THEY DONE?!
In the meantime, the "leprechaun" waited and waited and waited for the girls to fall asleep so "he" could sneak in undetected and check into the resort and spa. The "leprechaun", who in reality stood 5' 5" tall, had long brown hair, and answered to the name of "mom", slowly tiptoed into Melissa's room. The girls moved ever so slightly, perhaps sensing a presence. Mom froze, waiting until both girls were silent and still. Then mom tipped over the water, tossed the barbies around, stole most of the gold coins, and used the green crayon to write a note of thanks for the fun.
In the morning, the girls woke up and were absolutely astounded by the site! The leprechaun had come and played in the bedroom and made a mess and left them a note, AND THEY SLEPT RIGHT THROUGH THE ENTIRE THING!
As for the leprechaun (AKA - Mom) instead of placing the newly found "gold" in the pot at the end of the rainbow, she stuffed the coins were into the bottom of a sock drawer, never to be seen again...or so she thought.
~ ~ ~
About a year later, I asked Melissa to help me with the laundry. I folded the socks, while she put them away.
"Mom, why are there gold coins in Daddy's sock drawer?"
Danger! Danger! Think fast! Think fast!
"Well, the leprechaun must have put them there to hide them from you."
"Oh, ok. That makes sense."
I heaved a sign of relief. My naive little daughter actually believed me!
Or so I thought.
A few days later as we struggled through the nightly ritual of brushing of her long, knot-infested hair, she asked the question I had been dreading.
"Mom, are you really the leprechaun?"
"What? No, of course not!"
"Really Mom, it's ok, you can tell me the truth, I won't be mad."
"Seriously sweety, I am not the leprechaun."
"Really Mom, I won't be mad, I promise."
"Alright sweety, you're right. It was me," came my guilty admission. "I was really the leprechaun, it was me who snuck into your room in the middle of the night."
"YOU TRICKED ME! YOU LIED TO ME! WAAAAAAAAAAAA!"
So much for Melissa's promise of not getting mad.
Oh well. Since I had already blown my cover, I decided to also come clean about the tooth fairy and Santa Clause. Being Jewish, the latter didn't bother her quite so much, but I made her promise not to spill the beans to her friends who still believed in St. Nick. Even though I had spoiled the fun, Melissa's friends still deserved to enjoy a few more moments of childhood innocence.
In trying to bring to life to my baby girl's imagination, I had donned an alter ego, only to lose her trust once my secret was revealed. If I could, I would become the leprechaun every year, even when she is married with kids of her own. I want her to relish in those childhood fantasies where the existence of little green men is never questioned, and fairies really do exchange teeth for treasure. For all too soon, reality takes hold and childhood evolves into a grown up world, devoid of fantasy and wonder.
~ ~ ~
This year as St. Patrick's Day approaches, Melissa and Sarah, now college sophomores - albeit in different states - are both home for spring break. They plan to spend quality time together, and I'm sure they'll flash back to that day, so many years ago, when two 9-year old girls truly believed they had a visit from a Leprechaun!
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