March 17, 2014 was the year without a leprechaun in our house.
This morning, I decided to slow the usual school day pace down a bit because we had yet another 2-hour delay (yes, it snowed again!). Apparently, my boys didn’t get the memo because not only were they awake at the usual time, but they rushed through the A.M. routine of getting dressed and making their beds in record time (something that never happens on a regular school day, of course). As they came racing down the stairs, I heard my youngest shout out to his brother, “Don’t read the note without me!”
It took me a moment to realize that he was talking about the leprechaun’s note.
CRAP! I forgot all about St. Patrick’s Day.
I’m not sure if it was the previous week’s hectic schedule, the house guests we hosted over the weekend or the Sunday night snowfall that threw me off my game, but this year I just plain forgot. There was no note with a catchy rhyme and smart riddle directing the boys to the hidden pot of gold filled with small treats and green trinkets. There was no Irish music playing on the iPad (ok, we only have one Irish song — The Unicorn Song — but you get the idea). There were no shamrock placemats, no leprechaun straws, no emerald decorations. Just two young boys dressed in green, standing in the kitchen, waiting …
My oldest (10-1/2yrs.) seemed to take it in stride, deciding that leprechauns do not exist and that I was the one who decorated the house and bought the treats each year. I must have forgotten, he reasoned. Smart kid. Maybe I had dodged a bullet. Maybe the luck of the Irish was on my side today. He didn’t even seem disappointed. But my little guy (7-1/2 yrs.) was heartbroken. He thought it was his fault because he forgot to set a trap. To make matters worse, my older son told him his theory about leprechauns and moms.
Moment of truth … Do I lie to keep the dream alive for the 7-year-old, or do I come clean for the sake of the 10-year-old? I decided to do both. This was a golden opportunity for me to help my oldest, who will be entering middle school in the fall, mature. I quietly pulled him aside and told him the truth. He was ready, I thought. I hoped. I took it a step further and told him the Easter Bunny wasn’t real either (since that holiday is just around the corner), but I stopped short of killing off Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, too (I was able to ditch the Elf on the Shelf this past year, but that’s a post for another day). The catch, I told him, was that he couldn’t tell any of this to his younger brother.
I felt good about my decision to tell the truth, but guilty at the same time. Had I just pushed my 5th grader out of childhood? Was my decision selfish?
You know what? It was the right decision.
It was the right time for both of us to turn a corner. My son was beginning to question these mysterious holiday mascots and I was beginning to feel stressed by the pressure to outdo myself each year. But not anymore. Telling my son the truth felt like a weight had been lifted. Freedom! Whoo hoo! He was growing up and I was now free from all this secondary holiday hoopla … or so I thought, until I remembered that my younger son still believed and he was just too young to have the rug pulled out from beneath him. Argh! Now what?
Thinking on my feet, I ran upstairs to hide a dollar bill under each of their pillows (hey, money is green, right, and who doesn’t love money?). Then I told my older son, now in on the high jinks, to take his brother back upstairs for a moment so I could scribble a note, which I subsequently hid under his (not green) placemat. Here’s what it said:
I tried to redeem myself with a green breakfast: dyed pancakes, omelettes and milk, plus green grapes — the usual St. Paddy’s Day fare in our house. But it wasn’t until after breakfast when the boys were clearing their dishes and “found” the note that I was redeemed. My 7-year-old was thrilled that he hadn’t ruin the holiday and all was right with the world again.
St. Patrick’s Day may have been watered down in the Tarr house this year, but we did manage to keep the magic alive for one more year … at least for one kid. And an added bonus: My 10-year-old told me that for the next holiday, he’d help with the surprises and decorations so his brother can keep believing. Looks like I’m the one who scored the pot of gold.
A MOTHER’S LIMERICK
Composed by Lauren Dewey Tarr, RosesandArmpits.com
There once was a mother of two boys
who sometimes struggled to see all the joys.
But she knew in her heart
they were handsome and smart
so she learned to live with the chaos and noise.