Aside from being the third month of the year, March doesn't give us much. I mean, there's St. Patrick's Day. And, if you're a parent, I guess St. Patrick's Day means it's leprechaun trap season. Now, if you do not have a child in grade school, you almost certainly have no idea what I'm talking about. If you do, then you absolutely know what I'm talking about and my guess is you have thoughts and feelings on the subject.
For the uninitiated, "leprechaun traps" are a common grade school project that pops up around St. Patrick's Day. The idea is you have to construct a device to try to capture the tricky leprechaun who causes mischief in classrooms on March 17. If you go ahead and look up "leprechaun trap" on the Google or Pinterest, you will see a ton of examples that some crafty and creative kids and parents have put together. Now, obviously, the functionality of this "trap" is going to be just about as real as the leprechaun it claims to ensnare — this is much more of an arts and crafts project than a STEM project.
In theory, this is just a fun little project you can sit down and make with your kid and, I mean, who would could sh*t on that? Well, based on talk of this endeavor, plenty of people.
Moms. F*cking. Hate. The. Leprechaun. Trap.
The mom contingent of my social media life has been full of "leprechaun trap" posts for the past several days. Some people are gathering ideas. Some people are sharing their projects. Most, however, are involved long threads of people complaining about the whole debacle.
"When did "the leprechaun" become a thing?"
"I just had to do a '100 Things' shirt for the 100th day of school and now this. I spend more time at the craft store than I do at home!"
"Great, one more thing for me to do!"
Well, when did "the leprechaun" become a thing? Hell, when did St. Patrick's Day become "a thing"? This goes beyond the mere concept of "the leprechaun trap," which is a symptom of this whole St. Patrick's Day suddenly becoming a more involved business. Look, I'm Irish — Irish step-dance lessons level Irish — and the most we ever did on St. Patrick's Day was wear green and eat cabbage, salty meat, and delicious, delicious soda bread. Now all of sudden leprechauns are invading schools and we need to catch them? And is it one leprechaun? Multiple leprechauns? Are there other mythical Gallic creatures I should be concerned with? Any banshees or selkies or pucas going to come crawling out of the woodwork next year?
I can't turn another once easy-going holiday into a consumerist nightmare full of tchotchkes that will wind up in a landfill within six months.
Some people I know have even brought the concept of the leprechaun home and, like Santa and the Easter Bunny, "the leprechaun" brings children holiday-themed goodies. Now leprechauns in schools I can get behind, because, hey, it's fun and whimsical and I like make-believe. But I can't turn another once easy-going holiday into a consumerist nightmare full of tchotchkes that will wind up in a landfill within six months. Hey, if you dig making a big gift-giving to-do of holidays at home that's totally fine. You do you, but this is where I draw my line.
But OK, regardless of our opinions on (or bafflement over) the fact that St. Patrick's Day has been upgraded, we must accept that we now live in a world in which this has happened, hence leprechaun traps.
Yes, school projects, especially one after another after another, can be tiresome. We already do so much and now there's this. We're busy. Our kids are busy (when did busy kids become a thing?!). With all this busy-ness, quality time together, especially quality downtime together, is limited, especially for working parents. I absolutely understand the annoyance of having to take some of that quality time to a project perhaps neither you, nor your child, is especially interested in.
I'm not saying that this project is going to launch them toward a Nobel Prize in physics, but it potentially lays the groundwork for them in a number of disciplines.
But friends, I'm going to go ahead and declare myself as solidly in support of the leprechaun trap. It's not my favorite thing, or anything I would demand be incorporated into the curriculum if it weren't already included, but I can't join in on the deep-seated feelings of loathing many of you seem to.
We talk about wanting creative, fun educational school experiences for our children. We lament about the limited projects our kids get to experience that aren't just soul-crushing test-prep and worksheets. We want to encourage them creatively, artistically, and help them find their interests. We want to provide them with opportunities to learn about STEM. Well, I contend that the leprechaun trap project can do of those things, depending on how seriously you take it. I'm not saying that this project is going to launch them toward a Nobel Prize in physics, but it potentially lays the groundwork for them in a number of disciplines.
I understand that we live in a world where we as moms are expected to be perfect, and that this pressure can extend to our kids' special projects.
Believe me, no one wishes school could be filled with such activities more than yours truly. No one wishes we didn't have to facilitate project time at home because our kids' school time is packed with other things. But, like you and I, a teacher has a limited amount of time to accomplish everything they need to do. Certainly kids will be displaying and discussing their projects in class. They don't, therefore, also have time to do them there as well. Besides, this is a project that's going to take one-on-one help from an adult: there's only one teacher.
"They're not even going to do the project!" you lament. "This is going to be something I have to do!"
No, really. Why is this something you have to do? What will happen if you leave it mostly to your kid? It will probably look, you know, like a kid did it, but that's the idea. So what if the leprechaun trap looks janky? Your child's teacher sees their work every single day. They deal with children professionally and are aware of their artistic and developmental limitations. Teachers are not expecting something that resembles anything on a mommy blog, and they'll know who's responsible if your kid shows up with one.
I understand that we live in a world where we as moms are expected to be perfect, and that this pressure can extend to our kids' special projects. But this is, by all accounts, supposed to be a fun break from the normal. So relax and don't worry about your child not presenting a picture perfect assignment. This is your child's project. You're there to help, of course, (a great way to spend some quality time together), but, really, it's a leprechaun trap. No child is going to just miss valedictorian because their kindergarten leprechaun trap was subpar.
This notorious and often dreaded assignment, in my opinion, gets a bad rep. After all, it's only as big a deal as you make of it. It doesn't have to look good by adult standards. It has to look like a grade-schooler put some effort into it.
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