Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day. I really hope it goes well. It’s my favorite holiday with children, better than Christmas. Not that I mean to take anything at all away from Jesus or Christmas or anything. It’s just…well, March 17th is one last opportunity to inspire magical thinking in little minds. When I was little, you know, about a hundred years ago, we didn’t have video games, computers, cell phones, etc. And we were pretty poor. Our toys were few, but cherished. Our imaginations were our greatest assets. We made whole worlds of make believe places and people and situations. Children don’t really do that today. So this week, we have talked about Ireland, the land of castles, oceans, mountains (and mountain goats), fishing boats, and, best of all, leprechauns. They can see Ireland on a globe. They can see pictures of its landscape, ruined castles, boats and goats in my special picture book (love Barnes and Noble!!!). They understand Ireland is real. All I’ve had to do is throw in a little bit of leprechaun tales here and there…and the next thing you know, we are all outside looking for possible “hidey-holes” the little folks might use to hide candy or gold in while they’re out playing tricks on children. The kids (kind of) believe that tomorrow, if we are very sneaky, we might find real leprechaun candy. They also hope to catch one so they can get his gold.
Children today, for various reasons, don’t get exposed to much make believe play. Games are laid out for them, and so are many of the toys they play with (movie based). I relish this holiday because it’s a chance to involve them in their own fairy tale. The leprechauns showed up today and trashed our room. The children were comically outraged. The culprits (Director and Assistant) and I hid our laughter behind our hands, listening to the children come up with all sorts of theories as to the how, when, and why the little folks did what they did, and how to get them back. Of course the best revenge, I assured them, was to play their game and get the candy. That means going along with the cleaning, and possible re-cleaning, so the leprechauns would see they were being good sports. The next time, I told them, while the leprechauns are trashing our room, we will be finding and eating all their candy. A loud cheer went up. The kids were invested now in the play-along.
This is also the first time I’ve had this age group for this holiday. Since they’re almost four, I’ve had to create a whole hierarchy of elves and leprechauns. For instance, elves and leprechauns are cousins. Leprechauns are cousins to the elves from the Shoemaker story, as well as Santa’s workers. There are also very famous elves-Keebler and Rice Krispies. And a very famous person they didn’t realize was a leprechaun-The Lucky Charms dude. All these things, especially Lucky and Santa’s helpers, have lent credence to the story. Hopefully, it will be enough to make tomorrow a magical day for them. The magic will happen for me when I watch their faces and listen to their chatter…if you’ve ever seen genuine wonder on a child’s face, you’ll know why I want to create opportunities that might make it happen just one more time….