What public school hath wrought

By Mir
March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I hope you’re spending the day… ummm… drinking green beer? Shamrock hunting? Getting some girl named Erin to take off her bra?

I have no idea. See, I’m not Irish. (Plus, I believe beer should be red.)

St. Patrick’s Day has never been much more than a blip on the radar for me, but I do vaguely recall the kids coming home from daycare or school saying that a leprechaun had come to their classroom and left treats. Isn’t that cute? I think that’s really cute. At least, I thought that was really cute as long as St. Patrick’s Day fell on a school day.

“We need to build a trap,” Chickadee announced last night, appearing at my desk just after her shower. She was in her pajamas and combing the tangles out of her freshly-washed hair.

“Mmmmhmmmm,” I answered, ever the picture of maternal involvement. “That’s nice.”

“Moooo-ooooom!” She may have stamped her foot a little. “We need to build a TRAP so we can catch the LEPRECHAUN.” Uh oh. I pushed back from the desk with a sigh.

“Ummm, honey? We’ve never had a leprechaun come to the house. What makes you think one is coming?”

She looked at me with genuine pity for my impaired mental capacity. “Because it’s SAINT PATRICK’S DAY tomorrow? The leprechaun ALWAYS comes on St. Patrick’s Day! And he brings stuff!”

I happen to have it on good authority that the leprechaun had absolutely no plans to stop here today. “Chickie, I think the leprechaun only goes to school. I doubt he’s coming here.” She still didn’t look convinced. “I lock the doors, you know.”

“Oh, THAT doesn’t matter,” she assured me. “He’s coming. I’m going to go put our shoes out.” (Maybe the leprechaun needs shoes? There was no time to ask.) “And I’m going to leave him some directions.” She flounced off to the kitchen.

Ten minutes later, the pleasure of my company was requested. (“MOOOOOM! Come SEE!”) Three pairs of our shoes were set out by the door, along with a small note that said “Come in and follow the notes for a prize!” I followed a series of these scraps of paper on the floor (“You’re getting closer! Keep going!”) until I was led into the downstairs bathroom. On the counter sat a lopsided green shamrock, and beside it, the final note. “This is for good luck. You can have it.”

“Oh BOY!” I said, reaching for the shamrock. “Look what I found! And the note says I can have it!” Chickadee flung herself between me and the counter.

“NO! It’s not for YOU, it’s for the LEPRECHAUN!” I tried to get around her but she matched me step for step, so I ran off in circles around the house, instead.

“YAYYYY!” I called over my shoulder as she chased me. “A shamrock for MEEEEE!”

“NO!” she’d answer between breathless giggles, “the LEPRECHAUN!”





After about four very giggly laps on the first floor, I ran up the stairs. She was right behind me, and we were still debating the shamrock. I ran past the upstairs bathroom, where Monkey was just hanging up his towel. He fell in line behind us and joined Chickadee’s rallying cry, and down the hall we went.





I leapt onto my bed and was tackled. With both of them on top of me yelling “LEPRECHAAAAAAUN!” and all three of us laughing, I decided that I would probably need to negotiate a visit with this leprechaun, because this was quite a show and probably deserved a treat as a reward.


“LEPRECHAUN!” they shrieked in unison.


“LEPRECHAUN!” yelled Monkey, gamely, just as his sister put her face inches from mine and yelled, “LEPROSY!!”

There was a pause. We all burst out laughing again.

“Do you even know what leprosy IS?” I asked her.

“Yes, it’s a skin disease. In ancient times the people who had it were considered unclean.”

Well, then.

Eventually I agreed not to take the shamrock, but to leave it for the leprechaun. We did have to assure Monkey that the leprechaun probably doesn’t have leprosy, though.

We did our reading and then I tucked the kids into bed. “Mama,” Chickadee called from her bed as I was about to close her door. “You know how sometimes the Easter Bunny sometimes leaves little notes to help us find our baskets?”

I wasn’t sure where this was going, but probably not anywhere good. “Yes, honey?”

“Well, for some reason I feel like that must be a human doing that. Bunnies can’t write.”

I was grateful for the darkness, and took a moment to keep my voice serious. “Let me get this straight. You’re willing to believe that there’s a giant bunny who visits every house in the world on one night just to drop off candy-filled eggs and baskets of goodies, but you’re concerned because it doesn’t make sense that he can WRITE?”

She considered this. “Well, yeah.”

“Ooooookay. Well, we can talk about that another time. Go to sleep.”

“Okay, Mama. Mama?”


“Don’t take the shamrock.”

I chuckled. “I won’t. G’night, honey.”

The kids went to sleep and in the morning, whaddaya know? I guess at school the leprechaun leaves them sparkly pencils and chocolate coins, but on his first visit to our house he only had some pocket change and some little packages of Skittles. Huh.

Also, he took the shamrock.

We’re still debating whether or not he had a skin condition.


  1. Jazzy

    That is too cute. Who needs sparkly pencils when you have Skittles! So, what did you do with the Shamrock?

  2. Cele

    Oh very kewl Mom. I use to love dong crazy stuff like that… er at Easter, and on May day. I’m glad I didn’t get confused by St. Patty’s Day. Hey you could have left them some red beer bottles. er, not. Skittles is good.

  3. teachdragonfly

    such a cute story…any plans to make a children’s story book out of it? I am still smiling…

  4. Judy

    I love it… and I love Chickie and Monkey. Now we need a story about “The Leprechaun Who Had Leprosy… and Lost the Easter Bunny”

  5. Daisy

    Oh, is THAT who leaves the sparkly pencils at school? I thought they came from Oriental Trading Company. Silly me.

  6. Sara

    The leprechauns have visited my house since I was a wee lass. They always turned the milk green. They still do and now they even leave green jelly beans and some gold-foiled rollos in a small green basket for the children. And then, after dinner we have homemade shamrock shakes. Yes, we are all pretty Irish here. Why do you ask? :)
    I like Chickadee’s hints and the leprosy comments caused me to snort. I do think if she were wee, I’d put her in my pocket and take her home with me.

  7. liz

    Man, I guess it’s a good thing the leprechaun had Skittles instead of chocolate coins this year, seeing as how you gave up chocolate for Lent.

  8. MomCat

    Great story – it made my day! I’ll do the illustrations if you write it up, Mir. :D

  9. chris

    skittles and pocket change… way better than a pencil.

    Also, they should let you eat the skittles just in case the leprechaun does have leprosy and the candy is infected with it. Just thinking of the children…

  10. Taylor

    A leprechaun comes on St. Patrick’s day? Goddamnit. I’m calling my mom right now and yelling at her for never telling me about this. She’s got about 23 years of sparkly shamrock pencils to catch up on…

  11. Cyndi

    OMG. I never knew. Maybe cuz I’m German? But I never got no sparkly pencils either.

    I’m trying to decide if this will require therapy, or if I should go directly to Montel about it.

    Actually, I am not at all sure I would have been cool with the green milk thing…chocolate coins, though. I am all about the chocolate…and the coins… :D

    Boy, you guys make me laugh.

  12. Cyndi

    I would also love to hear the conversation with Taylor’s Mom…LOL

  13. Co

    I’m feeling jilted too. Is jilted a word? I never got sparkly pencils or made leprechaun traps when I was a kid. Great story!

  14. Anne-Marie

    My FRENCH mother used to serve up a lot of green food – jello, dyed potatoes, etc. Funny thing was that my dad didn’t let me wear red on St. Patrick’s Day when I was in kindergarten. Something about the British wearning red – really funny considering he was English.

  15. jenn2

    I am quite Irish, and I can tell you we ate shepherd’s pie and corned beef with cabbage, drank Irish Car Bombs (not green beer), and sang, played darts and danced a bit. Then we had a bonfire. If this doesn’t make sense, it;s because I am a wee bit tipsy. Too many car bombs, doncha know.

    But no leper Leprechans. I feel cheated.

  16. Jen

    Well, there was a trap set at our house today as well. The leprechaun got away but did leave some chocolate “gold” coins. And, throughout the day that sneaky leprechaun played quite a few tricks. Toilet water kept turning green for some reason. One childs milk was white and the other’s (the one who would actually drink it) mysteriously turned green. The pancakes (that the kids themselves made) turned green. Amazing how much fun you can have with a little green food coloring and a sneaky hand! :-)

  17. Rachel May

    I, too, feel gypped. I wasn’t even reminded to wear GREEN when I was a kid. Certainly never heard of these leprechaun traps of which you speak. No green milk. No sparkly pencils. No chocolate coins. NADA!

    *sniff* I think I need a hug.

  18. fairly odd mother

    St. Patrick’s Day was a ‘nothing’ holiday in my house growing up. We’re trying to do little things now but my first attempt at making ‘special magic Leprochaun snack’ failed (apparently soy milk will not make instant pistachio pudding ‘gel’).

    I think it is a little creepy for the kids to think little creatures sneak into the house and run around don’t you? If I came downstairs for water and saw one, I’d probably squash it like a bug.

  19. Amy

    Chickadee sounds like quite a preciouse little one. my kids are too young to really get it. This past Christmas was the first one my 2.5 year old understood. St. Patty’s day this year was a moms night out so we may have that traditon. I am excited to see what happens this year for our first easter egg hunt with 2.5 You will have to keep us smiling with those cute little episodes with chickadee. I couldn’t help but giggle.

  20. David

    Delightful! And especially Chickadee’s reminder for you not to take the shamrock. Too funny!

  21. Aimee

    Huh. Well we didn’t have anything *nearly* as festive at our house for St. Patrick’s Day, although I did completely WHOMP my husband at Scrabble, finishing it off with (luck o’ the Irish) CLOVER on a triple word score.

  22. Velma

    This has been our first year of Leprechaun infestation. We are a totally Irish family, and yet I’d never heard of all this Leprechaun trapping and visiting and such. My daughter’s teacher kept it up all week long, with stories of catching one on holiday in Ireland and bringing in tiny clothes to show the kids. Thanks a lot, Mrs. F_____!

  23. rachel

    and heck, we just made cupcakes with shamrocks on them! gee, the things kids miss out on because of homeschooling!

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