Leprechauns, Gold and Clovers
Prior to St. Patrick’s Day last year, my 9-year-old daughter, Jessie, came home from school and asked to have a picnic. We tossed two blankets in the yard and placed two lawn chairs on top of them. I relaxed in one of the chairs while Jessie prepared our picnic.
About 10 minutes later, Jessie called for assistance. She carried the basket of snacks and a few sheets of paper. I grabbed the crayons and markers. Of course, Sadie, our dog, joined us. It wouldn’t be a picnic without Sadie.
A few seconds later, Jessie’s feet were free of socks. We munched on pretzels and raisins and shared a can of Orange Crush soda a friend gave her for Valentine’s Day.
My future third-grade teacher (her current career aspiration) then distributed my first assignment, a St. Patrick’s Day maze. She had downloaded the maze from a teaching website and printed copies for each of us. We raced to see whose leprechaun would reach the pot of gold first. Jessie won.
My second assignment involved a coloring sheet that pictured a pot of gold. I like to color; however, my aspiring teacher gave me the following writing prompt: “If I saw a leprechaun, I would … ” Instead of coloring the pot of gold, Jessie asked me to write my answer inside the pot. I’m not a big fan of writing on demand, but noticed Jessie had already started to write hers down, so I hastily began.
Jessie finished well ahead of me. She wrote, “If I saw a leprechaun I would ask him nicely to give 1,000 million dollars to help find a cure for cancer.”
Jessie’s answer clearly beat mine, but for writing on demand, I did OK. “If I saw a leprechaun, I would say, ‘Hi, my name is Patrick. No, St. Patrick’s Day was not named after me, though I’m a kind and loving man. I already found my pot of gold. I have a beautiful wife, daughter and dog. I’m a blessed man.’”
Jessie then handed me my third assignment: a coloring sheet with the words “HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY” surrounded by green clovers. Finally, my chance to color! I searched for a green crayon.
Teacher Jessie had a different lesson plan. She gave me the writing prompt, “If I found a pot of gold, I would spend it on … ,” with my answer to be written on the back of the paper. Like before, Jessie finished well before me. She chewed on a pretzel stick and waited patiently.
Jessie has been campaigning for another dog, so her answer didn’t surprise me. “If I found a pot of gold I would spend it on one more dog. It would be a Havanese. I would spend the rest on books.”
I’ve been campaigning for a man cave. I wrote, “If I found a pot of gold, I would spend it on building a man cave. It would be a luxurious man cave with all the amenities a famous writer would have. I’d have state-of-the-art office equipment. I would install a bell on my desk. I would ring it to have my assistant bring me a snack or whatever else I need. For now, I’m happy with my man chair.”
As I reflect on our St. Patrick’s themed-picnic, these thoughts stand out. Jessie will make an outstanding teacher. Her best chance for a Havanese is to find a pot of gold; they’re expensive. I’m getting better at writing on demand, though I still don’t enjoy it. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Jessie found a leprechaun who could fund research to cure cancer?
Finally, I must accept that my man cave is not likely to happen. But hey, with the extra writing practice, maybe I’ll become a famous author and can upgrade to a man sofa.
Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year career in banking, accounting and auditing before he became a father at age 44. He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad and author of a monthly column titled “moMENts.” Follow Patrick at facebook.com/patricklhempfing and twitter.com/patrickhempfing.