Earlier this year, on the morning of St. Patrick’s Day, I went about our morning routine as I always do, but with very mild adjustments.
I helped my son get dressed, purposefully laying out a green shirt.
End of list.
After dropping him off at school for the morning and returning home, I hopped online. And what did I see?
Kitchens with the chairs turned over and a couple cabinet doors askew. Living rooms with shoes and books scattered about. Empty, homemade “traps.” Bathrooms decorated with toilet paper streamers. It honestly looked like snapshots from inside my own house any given Wednesday. But no, this was not a product of less-than-stellar housekeeping.
It was fucking leprechauns.
Suddenly, I was hit with the realization that some of my son’s classmates were going to be talking about how a leprechaun visited their house overnight and made a mess — because that’s what tiny, Irish, mythical creatures do. They trash strangers’ houses and leave chocolate coins and special edition boxes of Lucky Charms in their wake.
The sense of betrayal I felt from my fellow compatriots in parenting was palpable. They had forsaken me, yet again, to a world that is incessantly and needlessly trying to make itself more magical.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out this impulse some parents have. St. Patrick’s Day is a day to wear all the green crap you own, maybe eat corned beef and cabbage, and enjoy a Guinness (or two). We used to do little things to celebrate with our kids, like putting green food dye in our kids’ dinner foods. But when we realized that coloring food green is a quick way to make sure your kids won’t eat it, we called it quits, whereas other parents moved on to even greener and more annoying pastures.
I put up with this foolishness for other holidays, but everyone has their breaking point. One of these years, my son is going to come home and ask me why a leprechaun visits Billy’s house every year and not ours.
“Leprechauns aren’t real, and Billy’s parents are fucking liars. Now eat your green eggs.”
This is bullshit I refuse to participate in, along with all the additional ways that parents are taking stuff that is already magical and trying to up the ante.
A fat man in a red suit comes down your chimney, visiting every house in the world on a flying sleigh pulled by flying reindeer. He leaves presents under a tree inside your house, picking them out especially for you and knowing what you were most hoping to receive.
Verdict: NOT ENOUGH MAGIC. Let’s add a creepy-ass Elf who is going to watch our kids for a month that we have to remember to move every night so they think he’s alive. And let’s sprinkle powdered sugar around some boots, making a trail from the fireplace to our tree, so it looks like Santa was really here. Never mind that he left presents and ate our cookies, and there is no snow outside, and if there was, it definitely would have melted inside our house.
Situation: Losing a Tooth
You stick it under your pillow and wake up to a few coins or a couple dollars in its place left by a fairy.
Verdict: NEEDS MORE MAGIC. Sprinkle glitter on the floor as fairy dust. Spend the next eight months vacuuming it out of the carpet. Leave a note written by the Tooth Fairy that underscores the importance of practicing dental hygiene. Instead of money, leave an entire toy so your child feels $27 worth of loved instead of just $1 of loved.
A rabbit hides eggs around your house while you’re sleeping. No one really knows why. Inside the eggs is some candy. Put them in a basket with fake grass. Sit your kids on the rabbit’s lap at a mall beforehand to frighten the shit out of them.
Verdict: NO MAGIC PRESENT WITH THIS EGG-LAYING BUNNY. Make all the food you eat look like tiny bunny faces or bunny asses. Fill a small field with thousands of plastic eggs so that instead of looking for hidden ones, kids can just pile-drive each other while making sure they gather more eggs than any other child in their immediate field of vision. Fill an Easter basket with presents and treat this as spring Christmas.
Thanksgiving remains mostly untouched, but it’s only a matter of time before Pinterest bombards me with images of stuffed pilgrims sitting on windowsills, watching children before The Great Turkey sacrifices itself for the good of mankind. If they misbehave in November, the pilgrim gives them smallpox.
Life is already magical. Look around! You are a person, and you are alive, and there is an endless list of ways that can feel magical if you take two seconds to breathe and think about what you have for a brief moment. Instead of teaching our kids to constantly expect to be wowed, teach them to appreciate the world around them. It’s pretty fucking magical, even without glitter and chocolate.