St. Patrick’s Day leaves this dad befuddled

By: Tony Overbay
-A +A
I glanced over at the clock, still half asleep. The time was either 2 a.m. or 43 degrees. I was so tired I wasn't sure which number made more sense. Poppa, the leprechaun took my gold! I immediately jumped up and tripped over the sit-up contraption that no one would even take for free at our last garage sale. Who? Where? Where did he go? I asked, tumbling out into the hallway. Wait a minute, leprechaun? Gold? Right, right, tomorrow, or I guess technically right now, unless the time really is 43 degrees, and, if so, then I'm probably in the middle of a dream right now, is St. Patrick's Day. I can barely keep up with letters to the tooth fairy, eating carrots and cookies at Christmas, and chocolate cake crumbs at Easter. It's wonderful that the kids believe but it sure does a number on your sleep. And now, I have leprechaun gold to worry about? Most mornings when I wake up after spending late-night time with the kids ” either calming from a bad dream, tucking in after an early morning potty stop or the occasional clean up duty from a sick or wet kid (or puppy, but that's another article altogether) ” I attempt to take on the role of martyr. Woe is me. In typical male fashion I'm trying to score points, much the same way as when I clean up after myself or put the seat down. One might think I resent my wife for sleeping soundly through most of these pre-dawn experiences, pillow pressed firmly over her head. But if I complain, she simply reminds me of her being pregnant four times, spending four nine-month periods sleeping horribly either a) because she had a volleyball in her tummy or b) because there was a living creature inside of the volleyball that enjoyed a few laps around the womb while she was trying to sleep. And don't get her started on breastfeeding. With the first child, I woke up with her, made sure she had a pillow under her lower back, kept her company, burped the baby and then walked it back to sleep. With numbers two through four, I'm assuming that she still breastfed. But here I was, looking around the room for a tiny leprechaun. Thank goodness, the image of the leprechaun has changed over the years. Growing up a teenager in the 1980s, a decade chock-full of slasher horror movies, my version of a leprechaun was much different. Mine hid inside his pot of gold trying to lure greedy teens into his lair. My children have more of the Lucky Charms version of a leprechaun, a bit mischievous, but one who definitely won't remove the fingers that reach into the pot looking for treasure. My wife and I had done our parental duty; we removed the treasure from the traps, but it was the leprechauns that got the last laugh. As we learned earlier that evening from our 10-year-old, the leprechaun will go into the trap to get the gold, in this case pennies, and get caught. Then they enter a stage of metamorphosis, much like a caterpillar does turning into a butterfly, only in this case the leprechaun turns from his happy, mischievous elf into a potato. I swear one of the neighborhood kids took the story on this detour because I don't remember this unhappy ending from my youth. Wake up and find a potato in a box? I don't want to be the one consoling the kids at 2 a.m. that all they got for their efforts was a potato! If that's the case where's the pillow for my head? I think I'll sleep through this one. Tony Overbay of Lincoln is a Marriage and Family Therapist intern.