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Today I had a rare hour with no meetings or school commitments of any kind. I thought about doing something crazy like catching up on work in the morning rather than at midnight. But then I remembered two little words that have been haunting my recent days: Fergal O’Gorman.

Fergal O’Gorman is a force to be reckoned with. No lame-o Elf on The Shelf smiling beatifically down at you, Fergal O’Gorman wrecks the place. He leaves chairs on the kitchen table. He spews toys across the hall. He scatters pillows throughout the house.  He knocks over lamps. And even more disturbing, he leaves elaborate, rhyming notes and St Patrick’s Day candy, which can only be bought at See’s Candies (yes, I have looked at Target). Every single night in March.

I am not sure at this point how Fergal O’Gorman even came to be. Back when my oldest was first in preschool, a leprechaun visited their school and made a small mess. Danny built a trap with his classmates and brought it home. And then he built more. And then Annie built more. And JayJay added some in. And Conwayville, our annual village of old toys and cleat boxes, was born. Fergal O’Gorman emerged as the wilder brother to our Elf on the Shelf Johnny (who incidentally manages to keep his magic despite sleeping with people every night he is here), a sprite who demands gold (and occasionally Irish cheese—for what reason, I really can’t remember, there must have been a sale) and leaves candy in an attempt to win the Conway treasure.

Fergal O’Gorman is in fact the name of a Dubliner I knew in college. He was tall, dark, with wavy hair and a brown suede jacket worthy of Eddie Vedder. I almost dated him my freshman year. Now I run around in my ratty bathrobe destroying my own house on a nightly basis in his name. Fergal, eat your heart out.

Sometimes I think maybe I should just retire the leprechaun. Send a note that says, hey, kids, thanks for all the pennies, I think you’re great. I’ll come every year and leave you some cash and a nice big pot of candy but not until St Patrick’s Day, ok? I mean, Danny barely even look at the traps anymore—except to collect the spoils.

But then tonight I watched as Annie and JayJay constructed what might be the most elaborate trap yet, involving a decoy stuffed animal in shamrock sunglasses, a camera (to film the leprechaun), a slingshot armed with a little green monster, some fake jewels, a Small World doll, a Nerf gun and numerous notes to lure Fergal in. They were having so much fun that they even dragged Danny down and got him into the act. And even as I struggled to figure out how I am going to actually create a picture on their camera tonight, I realized that it is all strangely worth it. And weirdly fun. It may mean I write that press release a bit later, but how often as an adult do you get to play, to let your imagination run as wildly as it might have when you were six?

I might never finish my younger two’s baby books. Pretty soon, when they are in middle school, they will think that I am the lamest mother in the world. The leprechaun traps will just be quaint decorations. But, eventually, when they look back on their childhood and they know that every single night in March their mother crawled around, tripping over her own messes, creating havoc for herself in the name of their fun, they will know how deeply I care. How much I want there to be magic in their lives and joy in their little souls.

And if they don’t, well, when they have kids, Grandma and Fergal O’Gorman might come pay them a visit. And he just might leave their kids some See’s Candies and a promise to return. Every single night in March. Right before Grandma heads out of town.

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