Thursday, March 17, 2011

Little Green Men

We’re ridiculously over the top when it comes to holidays. Literally, the lengths to which we will go to amuse our children is almost embarrassing. The Easter Bunny makes each child follow a labyrinth of colored yarn, starting at the top of the stairs, to find his or her basket. These are sometimes hidden in the car or the neighbor’s yard. The kids crawl under coffee tables, jump over furniture and lift the toilet seat lid to follow the string. They’re exhausted when they get to the end.

[Now that I think of it, how can it be they’re not terrified thinking of a giant bunny lurking in the hall at midnight outside their bedrooms? These are the kids who were scared of costumed characters until age six (Caroline; Disney’s always been out of the question) and of 3D movies until age five (Jack, because he freaked out when things flew at him)?]

At Christmas, Santa eats the cookies, drinks the milk, feeds the carrots to Rudolph, writes the kids a thank-you note and even leaves a trail of magical glitter that has fallen off his sled.

The tooth fairy leaves only brand new, shiny gold dollars for lost teeth. The kids have never seen them anywhere else, so naturally, they believe they’re minted just for their little teeth and nothing else.

So it won’t surprise you, a bit, that leprechauns visit on St. Patrick’s Day. In the past, the leprechauns have gone nuts…milk, toilet water and bath water have suddenly turned green. I think we had some well-intentioned but very misguided green mashed potatoes one year. There’s pesky confetti in backpacks and chocolate coins and necklaces left in the kids’ shoes. Secretly, given their advancing ages, I thought the gig was kind of up this year, and they had figured out the true identity of the leprechaun.

Until we were walking home from school yesterday, and the kids were in front of me. This was the conversation I overheard:

Caroline: Jack, don’t forget to leave your shoes by the door tonight. The leprechauns come since tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day.

Jack: Oh, yeah. That’s right. (Long pause.) Caroline, do you believe in leprechauns?

Caroline: Mommy says they stop coming when you’re older or when you decide not to believe in them. So yes, I believe in them, and they keep coming. Anyway, Mommy hates confetti. She’d never throw it all over the house just so she’d have to clean it up. That would be dumb.

Dumb. Okay, please. With all due respect to my adorable children, is it really me we should be calling names? Because, let’s face it, Caroline, little green men don’t really enter our well-secured home to sprinkle confetti in your smelly sneakers. And frankly, Jack, you scream if you see a fly in the house. Are you really okay with this whole idea?

And it's even a little worrisome. I mean, Caroline is in third grade. If she runs into school muttering about little green men taking an interest in her shoes, they're going to lock her up in the looney bin.

All right. Fine. I've still got a few leprechaun tricks up my sleeve. But I have stopped thinking my gullible little kids are sweetly innocent and naively accept all forms of magic without reservation. Now I have a sneaking suspicion maybe they're actually a bit dim.

Note to self: password protect the blog. Dim or not, they're happy, and I don't want to be the one to blow it.

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