Caught in a Trap - A Leprechaun Trap

It’s a little before midnight on St. Patrick’s Day Eve. Tomorrow is one of my favorite holidays as I get to celebrate my Irish heritage.

Except lately I’ve been feeling some guilt over this holiday. The same guilt I feel at Christmas and Easter and every time one of my kids loses a tooth. It’s liar’s remorse. You see, we jumped on the Paddy-wagon and started setting leprechaun traps in my house three years ago, and with that tradition came a lot of lying, and a lot of guilt.

As implausible as he is, I’ve come to terms with the Santa story and I even got into the Elf on a Shelf sham in my own half-hearted way. The Easter Bunny baloney makes me a little more uncomfortable - I have a hard time telling me kids with a straight face that a human-sized bunny rabbit comes and brings them goodies on Easter. The Tooth Fairy fib is just plain creepy: a fairy who sneaks into children’s bedrooms at night to collect their teeth? But I grew up with these falsehoods myself and that makes it easier for me to propagate the myths onto the next generation.

The St. Patrick’s Day Leprechaun lie is new to me, however, and perhaps that’s why I am so conflicted. If you’re not familiar with the leprechaun trap, here is the gist: leprechauns are greedy but not that smart, so if you set a trap in your house using fake gold as the bait, you can capture a tiny green man and convince him to give you his pot o’gold. Sounds like something I’d come up with after a few too many pints of Guinness.

I don’t know who came up with the idea of the leprechaun trap. I first heard about it four or five years ago from friends with older children who were making traps as school projects. I thought it sounded like a fun way for my kids to celebrate one of my favorite holidays, and also teach them a little science and ingenuity, so I got in on it too. And it’s been a lot of fun. And also a lot of blarney.

I wouldn’t feel so bad if my middle daughter (age 6) weren’t so completely convinced that she will catch a leprechaun tomorrow.  Each year she has improved her traps to the point where she is certain she has a fool-proof trap tonight.

Three years ago she made this trap:

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She was three at the time and was was so excited as she explained how it worked, “It has wheels so it can chase leprechauns - leprechauns are very fast - and hands to grab the leprechaun and put it inside. Now it just needs real eyes to see the leprechaun, Mommy can we get REAL eyes, like from somebody’s head?” I suggested we glue on some googly eyes instead and she yelled in frustration, “That is NEVER gonna work!!!” before storming out of the room in disgust. She was right, it didn’t work, no leprechauns that year.

But she was not deterred. The next year she made a less imaginative but more practical plan: a ladder up the side and trap door right before her “gold” bait (rocks painted yellow). But they escaped again. Last year she improved the plan with a one-way trap door (popsicle stick on top won’t let the door swing back open) and face-up electrical tape lining the floor of the shoe box.

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She was sure last year's trap would work. My husband thought it would ease the blow if the leprechaun left a note. He wrote that the leprechaun was indeed caught and about to give up, but he called for his mates who shook the box until he was able to climb out.

Disappointed but not discouraged, on March 17, 2013 she started scheming for St. Patricks’ Day 2014.

Thanks to my husband’s note, she knew the one flaw in her trap: the box could be lifted off the floor. So she decided she would stick the box to the floor with electrical tape. At least once every two weeks for the past twelve months, my six-year-old has asked me how many days it is until St. Patrick’s Day. Sometimes in the car she’ll just start laughing out of the blue, and when I ask why she says she can’t wait to get all the leprechaun’s gold.

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