There is a leprechaun loose in our classroom and we need to catch him! Please spend the next two weeks building a trap to catch the leprechaun with your student. Remember to use problem solving skills and logic. Make sure the traps are returned to school by Friday March 14th. We’ll set the traps in all of the kindergarten classrooms over the weekend and hopefully catch him by St. Patrick’s Day.
Seriously? This is the kind of assignment that makes a parent cringe and maybe drop a few bits of low-
Having long worked in education, I guarantee that of those projects that were returned to school last Friday– at least a handful of kids had no projects as two weeks gives a parent more than enough time to totally space the project off and completely forget about it. Those returned could be divided into three distinct categories: those done entirely by control freak parents without the patience to enlist the assistance of their child, those done completely by unsupervised kindergarteners and those, like ours, that began with the best intentions but quickly whirled out of control.
Though I am pretty darn Irish, and having spent the past 42 years receiving shamrock themed birthday wishes the day before St. Paddy’s Day, I’d never heard about trapping a leprechaun. But I was willing to go with it. The Midget and I did some brainstorming and we figured the best thing to do was start with a well decorated box and then turn it over to the Turk, who is an engineer, to handle the mechanics of trapping. True to all stereotypes, the Mom-led decorating was complete on day one and the Baba-led mechanics wasn’t completed until twenty minutes before bedtime the night before it was due.
Though we’d discussed it extensively at the dinner table in the days leading up, this was all lost on the Turk when it was made clear that final evening that he had no idea what a leprechaun was. While the Irish love to vacation in Turkey and a few of us fools even love to marry Turks, it seemed leprechauns never made their way to Turkey. After a little Googling, when the Turk was clear on his target, he went to work while the Midget assisted him by standing on his head, releasing intermittent bursts of methane and occasionally whining.
Though assistance was offered, Rambo-Turk refused, preferring to take the lone wolf approach. Cardboard flew, tape torn and rope was woven as the Turk ran in and out of the garage. At one point he was out on the driveway smashing a brick to get the perfect size and sharpness of brick. Through it all, the Midget remained in his farting headstand. Finally, as he wiped sweat from his brow, the Turk declared, “It is done. You see, he go in, trips the string, rock falls on his head, this sharp part cuts his neck. He is dead. We got him.”
Horror washed over the faces of both the Midget and me. “Baba, you can’t kill him.”
“But you say trap.”
“Yes, Honey. Trap the leprechaun. Then they can let him go out in the woods.”
“Ha! Like stupid No-Kill mouse trap? No. What is the point of that?”
“But Baba….” I quickly sent the Midget off to the bath tub to save him from a night of dead-leprechaun themed nightmares and turned my attention to the Turk.
“What is wrong with you? This is a kindergarten project. You can’t kill the pretend character.”
“Why not? I wanted to build so when he go in, knives come in sides and ….whoosh…off his head.”
As I looked at the excitement in the eyes of my dear husband, the man I love, the father of my children, all I could respond was, “You are a freak.”
“No. I am Turk. In Turkey if you catch and set free, it come back to kill you. That why you kill it first.”
And having lived there and recounting the great wild boar hunt of '07, I understood. Completely. To my Turk, being charged with catching a small mythological Irishman was no different than when he and his friend were charged with saving their parent's summer homes from a pack of wild boars some crazy woman had spent the winter feeding and now were threatening to eat the children. (True story. I can't make this crap up.) We'd asked him for a trap and a trap is exactly what we'd received.
Touche’ my Turk
The next morning we did instruct the Midget that when he explained his trap to the class, it was best to just point out that the rock would not kill the leprechaun, but rather only knock him out and close the door. Then they were free to whisk the little amnesiac out into the woods and set him free. The Midget, knowing his classmates well, agreed that this was the best approach too. These little Hoosier kids are just not ready for Turkish life lessons yet.