By Valerie Matyas
A healthy dose of imagination and creativity runs through the blood of my first grader. He likes adventures, stories, building, and drawing. Before the COVID-19 school closure, his first grade teacher had invited the students to create Leprechaun traps in the classroom. This idea happily traveled home with him.
While he busily constructed the trap, I asked a few questions.
“Tell me more about catching a leprechaun. What does one do with a leprechaun once it is caught?”
“Well, Mom, you’ve got to catch it before it destroys the house.”
“Destroys the house?”
“You know…paints the toilets green, throws rocks at the windows, trashes the place.”
“Oh, my. I had no idea.”
Nonchalantly shrugging, “It’s in a book.” Teach them to read, they said. It will open new worlds of imagination for them, they said.
Repeating my initial question, “OK, so what does one do once the leprechaun is caught.”
More casual indifference, “Shake it to stun it, and bury it alive.”
“Oh, my. I had no idea.”
Over the weekend he diligently worked on the trap. He covered a cardboard box with green paper, propped it up with a marker, and added fake gold coins as bait. His excitement was palpable. On Monday night the trap was set and ready for action. In addition to the leprechaun trap in my living room, there was a tooth on the kitchen window sill patiently awaiting the Tooth Fairy’s arrival. Same first grader–this kid leads an active life.
After all four kids were tucked into bed, my pastor-husband and I discussed the current events of the world. He was feeling extra burdened, I was feeling extra tired. After a pause in the conversation both of our eyes found the leprechaun trap.
I started slowly, “I was thinking, perhaps, a leprechaun might be strong enough to escape the trap by ripping a hole in the cardboard. Perhaps he keeps a mini dagger in his boot? I thought he might steal all of the fake gold, escape the trap, but leave a note behind?”
“That sounds about right,” he smiled.
Who knows what happened in our parsonage after we all went to sleep? Maybe the Tooth Fairy and a leprechaun helped one another out. Maybe punching the hole in the side of the trap was just what the leprechaun needed to blow off some steam. Maybe the Tooth Fairy was glad for a bit of normalcy in a world that felt so abnormal. Maybe they shared a conversation about the current events of the world. Maybe they prayed for the people they love, those sleeping in the parsonage, those working, or waking throughout the world.
When my first grader woke up the next day, his missing tooth was swapped for fifty cents, the trap had a hole in the side, the gold was gone, and he found a note.
It read, “Nice try, Laddie,” a drawn shamrock and a single green footprint serving as a signature.
In a topsy-turvy world, who would have guessed that a visit from a leprechaun and the Tooth Fairy would feel so right?