st. patrick's day and lying to children: two great tastes that taste great together


My mother Sharon, she of the gimpy knee and gradually-improving Irish accent, teaches four year-olds at an unnamed local preschool. Today was the highlight of the entire year at the school, for today was St. Patrick's Day. OK, it was the day after St. Patrick's Day, but the Tuesday/Thursday/Friday class wasn't at school yesterday, so they celebrated today. It's the culmination of an entire month full of stories about leprechauns and much singing (and beginning again) of the sad tale of Michael Finnegan. Here's how it works:

Earlier in the day, the young'uns, in conjunction with parent volunteers, build a Rube Goldberg-esque contraption designed for the humane trapping of leprechauns. Then, the fun begins.

At Circle Time I, Mrs. Keane tells the children about how, earlier in the day, she heard a rustling in the cupboard. She opened the door, pounced quickly, and caught a leprechaun with her bare hands, she lies. A paper sack is produced, ostensibly holding a plastic sandwich bag with a leprechaun inside. Just as Mrs. Keane is about to open the bag and show the assembled children, she subtly bumps the sack with her knee.

"The leprechaun seems nervous," Mrs. Keane says. "Why don't we put the bag up on a high shelf (not too high - Mrs. Keane is 4'11") where it's dark and quiet? Then, once the leprechaun calms down, we'll bring him out."

The kids agree to the plan, and move on to arts, crafts, and tricycle riding. In the meantime, Mrs. Keane surreptitiously cuts holes in the paper sack, and the bags within. Before Circle Time II, everyone checks the leprechaun trap, and Mrs. Keane places a dish of green paint next to it "just in case he manages to get out, we can track him."

We retire to the other room, for more songs about leprechauns and pin-fishing Irishmen. Of course, while this is going on, the parent confederates are laying a trail of tiny green leprechaun footprints running away from the trap and into the parking lot. When Mrs. Keane brings out the hole-ridden bag, bedlam ensues:

"The leperchaun got out Mrs. Keane!"
"Check the twap!"
"I think it went outside!"
"It's undoh the sink!"

Children are running around, wide-eyed, almost hysterical with excitement. The finishing touch is the leprechaun's escape tool, a tiny toy spade left next to the trap, which one child breathlessly refers to as an "Irish shovel." The leprechaun's cache of gold-wrapped gold coins is discovered, ensuring that the already-hyper children have a little more sugar in their system when they go home, cranked up out of their minds. It's the best day of the whole year, and it's all made possible by our good friend deceit.


my mom did this to our girl scout troop once on a camping trip. she told us a bedtime story which involved fairies sprinkling fairy dust and we all woke up covered in glitter and sequins. it was so magic, and for years I believed it was real. this was my junior year of high school.

Is there anyway I could sign up for a graduate program at this unnamed preschool? The thought of Mrs Keane shuffling me around on the next major holiday gives me more kicks than it should. Yeah I missed St.Patty's, but sign me up for the egg hunt. Anyone know any good Easter songs?

wait a minute. wait. why is the leprechaun in a plastic bag? and how does the rube goldberg device figure into it? oh, i'm all confused.

The leprechaun trap is in case it escapes. The plastic bag is for extra security, I guess, except that an Irish shovel is unstoppable.

Leprechauns don't need oxygen. But you want to make sure that you kill all of the vermin that might be hitchhiking on the leprechaun. So you have to keep the wee beastie in an airtight plastic bag for a few weeks to kill of anything that might be living on it. Otherwise the rats (and their fleas) on the leprechaun might spread The Green Death.



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This page contains a single entry by Sean Keane published on March 18, 2003 11:17 PM.

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