Thursday, March 17, 2016

How to Catch a GD Leprechaun

Okay you guys. I think I'm just being a big baby on behalf of my biggest baby but this made me so sad! I know I'm always saying "You Do You" and "Give Less Fucks" and "We Don't Need to Keep Up With No Stinking Joneses" and stealing my friend Claire's ban on "Shoulds," and that is all well and good when it comes to ourselves, but it is SO HARD when the brunt of this important life lesson falls on the little ones.

Last week Jackson Jay came home with a helpful flyer informing us that we needed to bring a "Leprechaun Trap" to school before St. Patrick's Day. I had never heard of such a thing before in my life, but luckily the flyer came with some sample photos, and I'm crafty enough, so I figured we got this. DM suggested we bring a box of Lucky Charms, but Jack was really into the engineering of the whole thing - he wanted some sort of mechanism, some pomp and circumstance, and a box of cereal wasn't going to cut it. Plus, I never pass up an opportunity to glue my fingers together, thrash the wood finish on the dining room table, or contract a mean case of glitter-lung (like black lung, with bling).

By the way, Leprechaun Traps are an actual thing, apparently, and I was late to the game, because Michael's was completely sold out of fake gold coins and all things green and rainbow. But I thought I had cobbled together a good enough plan that the kids could actually do.

So we made some traps. They loved it. There was a heated discussion about the existence of leprechauns (I did not receive the memo that this was another elaborate lie I would have to maintain for 5-7 years). It was ultimately decided that "Leprechauns are just Elves that wear green," ipso facto, they are as real as Chuck Ferry, our resident Elf on the Shelf. Jack also told me that, according to his teacher, leprechauns are naughty and make big fat messes like their trolling red-shirted elf-kin. However, if you're Irish, you're safe from their shenanigans and malarkey. Damn, Chauncey. Seems kinda racist. (P.S. If anyone invents Leprechaun on the Lawn, so help me God, I will end you.)

Anyway. The Boy was SO EXCITED to take his trap to school Monday morning. Before we got out of the car he said, "Wait, Mama, can you explain again exactly how the leprechaun is going to get trapped?" He wanted to have the "story" down pat so that he could explain the particulars to his friends. Once we ironed out our talking points, we headed inside.

The traps were not actually due until Wednesday, so for once we were actually ahead of the game. Only one other kid had brought hers in and the two were more or less matched in terms of effort and attention to detail. Jack was so proud of his, and relished giving hands-on demonstrations.


Fast-forward to Wednesday morning, the day the traps were due. The teacher had them all lined up, apparently from biggest and grandest to teeny-tiniest. And Jack's was at the very end of the line. As we walked in, one of his friends said, "I like your tiny little leprechaun trap, Jack!" Oh my gosh, you guys. Ouch. This kid cares SO MUCH about this exact kind of thing. He is so sensitive and so easily discouraged and so quick to compare himself to others and come up short. He is hyper-aware of the "currency of cool," even in kindergarten - from clothes and shoes and hair to reading levels, lunch contents, and extracurricular activities. I could see his sweet little face trying to pretend like he didn't care, his eyes tracking from his Lilliputian leprechaun trap to the behemoth boondoggle at the other end of the table that was apparently built to house a leprechaun the size of a small horse. What had, the day before, been a balloon full-to-bursting with pride, popped right in front of my eyes. I spent the whole drive to work with that cry-y feeling behind my eyeballs. I know it's a stupid thing. I know that teaching my kids to care about such petty displays of worth is the wrong lesson here. But it literally hurt my heart.

Also, I wish I had taken a picture so you guys could see what I'm dealing with here. A couple friends called me an overachiever when they saw what we made, but I knew what I was up against. These are the types of moms who actually DO the shit they find on Pinterest, as opposed to me (and I assume the rest of the civilized world), who pin 9,437,588 things and expect to complete them posthumously in heaven where I imagine there will be pre-assembled Martha Stewart craft storage, self-cleaning crock pots that run on the power of unicorn tears and angel's wings, and an endless supply of organic kale, quinoa, empty toilet paper rolls, and glitter glue (actually maybe this is hell?) Anyway, this clearly wasn't their first leprechaun rodeo.

Do you remember being a kid and getting something new - a book, a toy, a dress, a haircut, and thinking it was "Totally radical, dude!" Only to arrive at school to be tried by a jury of your peers and found utterly uncool? Ugh. My boy with the marshmallow soul :(

This is how stuff gets out of hand though, people! Because next year you can guarantee we are going to build the Empire State Building of leprechaun traps, which in turn is going to ruin some other kid's day. It's a vicious cycle of leprechaun one-uppery. And now I'm going to be part of the problem! Or maybe not. I have 364 days to turn this into a teaching moment. We shall see. It would be great if we could all just have a little pow wow and agree to substantially lower the bar. That would be ideal.

Also, if we could agree to let our kids to do their own projects? Because I know your child did not do that Frank Lloyd Mc'Wright shit by himself. I will be the first to admit I am an overbearing quality assurance manager but for the most part I try to let them do their own work even when it means shit is crooked and ugly and they put the colors of the rainbow in the wrong order which causes me physical pain.

I honestly don't even think this would be a thing with Colby. She does, to an extent, get caught up in the homogenizing popularity contest that starts, apparently, in preschool. Her love of jewelry and pink and princesses and "pretty things" and utter disdain for pants doesn't come from me. (Okay well maybe the pants thing is from me.) But for the most part, when it comes to other people's opinions of her, she doesn't have two fucks to rub together. I wish I could bottle up this imperviousness, this certitude, and sprinkle it on big brother's oatmeal every morning. As I've said here before, we don't worry too much about Colby Jean. She'll take life by the horns and head-butt it. But sometimes I wish I could just cover Jack in bubble-wrap until he's, oh, I don't know, 35 or so?

"Making the decision to have a child - it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." And to leave it stabbed and bleeding at the hands of the cruel world! (Elizabeth Stone)

And yes, I know, this is a textbook example of #firstworldproblems. Whatever. They're my specialty ;)

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