At today’s mentoring session, Ernie informed me his mother grounded him again over the weekend, for a full month! The cause this time was: leprechauns?! Though Ernie hasn’t a speck of Irish blood to speak of, the mythical wee people from across the pond – and their pots of gold – figured prominently in his latest disciplinary measure.
When I first asked him why he’d been grounded, he tersely answered: “leprechauns.” Intrigued by the minimalist explanation, I commenced a suitably lawyerish interview. I learned that the third-grader without Irish ancestry strongly believes in the magical creatures from Eire. That faith became further buttressed by a “true” news story the lad heard last week, about a real live leprechaun being spotted in an Alabaman’s backyard. After hearing the tale, Ernie had decided that this St. Patrick’s Day, conveniently falling on a Saturday, would offer a perfect opportunity to capture one of the little folk for his very own. He’s had his eye on the new iPad, and he figured a leprechaun’s pot of gold could fund the purchase.
He initially thought to cut out the middleman altogether. According to reliable sources (certain fifth-graders, mainly), leprechauns commonly bury their valuable stashes in residential backyards. As Ernie reasoned, why bother with the gold’s owner when an industrious sort can locate the hidden treasure by himself? He felt confident he’d succeed, given enough time — and holes.
Armed with a garden shovel, Ernie spent Saturday afternoon digging behind his house. His endeavors failed to reveal a leprechaun’s trove though. Instead, he merely uncovered a dozen or more deposits of rock-strewn earth, which previously had been concealed beneath sod and his mom’s Rose bushes.
Go figure; Ernie’s mother did not joyfully greet her son’s archeological excavations. After testily informing him that leprechauns don’t exist, she grounded him a week in punishment for his vandalism.
Undaunted by his mother’s assertion or retribution, Ernie inwardly conceded that he’d have to catch himself an actual leprechaun in order to obtain the golden hoard. He asked his mother’s unwitting boyfriend to lend him a rabbit trap. Upon obtaining it, the intrepid hunter situated the trap in a likely spot at the edge of the woods. He didn’t have any actual gold to employ as a lure, so he used a couple of chocolate Easter eggs wrapped in gold foil instead.
While keeping watch at his bedroom window overnight, Ernie thought he heard rustling inside the trap. Flashlight in hand, he rushed outside to investigate. He did not encounter a green-clad sprite, however. Rather, what he came face to face with was an angry skunk. There followed a tomato bath, an additional week’s grounding, and another stern advisory from his mother that “leprechauns don’t exist, dammit!”
Interrupting him, I inquired: “Hold on. That brings you to two weeks of grounding, but you started out saying your mom grounded you for a whole month. What about the other two weeks?”
Frowning, Ernie answered: “I thought, if I couldn’t find my own leprechaun, I could ask that leprechaun in Alabama for his pot of gold. I would’ve too … if mom hadn’t seen me on the road trying to hitch a ride there, and grounded me another two weeks!”