I'm being visited by a Creature.
No, not a particularly unpleasant one, this time. Not a Siren, a Gargoyle, or a Goblin. Just a Leprechaun.
The Leprechaun of Laziness, to be precise.
I'm sure he's come back because the promise of summer vacation is looming large. Each day feels more and more like it ought to be a vacation day; each task feels more and more as though it can safely be put off until later. The last time he made an appearance, we were within a few days of our Christmas break, and he employed some of the same strategies then as he is employing now. You'd think I'd know better than to fall for them--but I don't.
I first notice him when my alarm rings. Now, this is not my husband's alarm; this one is mine, and it's supposed to be set for sometime between "A Decent Hour" and "Almost Too Ridiculously Late for a Woman With Children at Home." But when the alarm begins to sound at the Decent Hour, and my bleary eyes focus on the bookshelf that serves as a nightstand, I notice a spry little figure, all green and mischevious, sitting cross-legged next to the clock, his hand poised over the "snooze" button. "Shall I?" he murmurs in that persuasive Irish lilt of his.
"Please!" I murmur, pulling the pillow over my head. "Just once," I add, my sleepy voice muffled.
"What was that, me darlin?" he whispers, pretending not to hear me. I don't hear him; I'm asleep again already.
When I wake with a start at twenty minutes past Ridiculously Late, he's nowhere to be seen.
Grumbling, I get on with my day, getting the children started on school work and attempting to make up for lost time. This seems to be happening, and I'm starting to feel like everything is under control, when I run into the bedroom to get some printer paper for someone's art project, only to see that the computer has been turned on and is humming quietly to itself in that startled-yet-pleased manner it gets when it realizes we haven't yet replaced it with a Mac.
"Who turned on the computer?" I ask, wondering.
"I did, me dear," says the Leprechaun, dwarfed by the swivel chair in front of the computer in which he's sitting. "I hope you don't mind. I got it all started up while you were having that wee bit of a shower of yours." The gleam in his eye tells me how aware he is that there's nothing "wee bit" about my overlong showers.
"Well, what are you doing?" I stammer, wanting to drop the 'shower' subject.
"Oh, nothing. Just getting things set up for you. Lots of good things posted at all your favorite blogs, I see!" he beams.
"It's half an hour till lunchtime!" I say, indignantly. "I'll come back then."
"Whisht, now," he says, shaking his head. "It's twenty-four minutes till. How much work can you really get done in that time? Why not let the little ones have an early break today?"
A few minutes later, the girls are eating lunch, I'm hanging ten with the mommy bloggers, and the Leprechaun has vanished again.
When lunch is completely over, I get up from the computer, feeling a bit guilty. My attention has been rather distracted today, I think. I go back to the living room, fully intending to teach until quiet reading time (which used to be nap time, once upon a time). And for a while I do. We are covering ground, there are only a few workbooks left to cover, and I start to feel like we're back on track.
And then I see the Leprechaun standing by the phone, the cordless headset in his tiny hands. His eyes meet mine. "You did promise to call her back, you know," he says softly. He hands me the phone; he's already dialed the number; the workbooks fall by the wayside.
When the children are doing their quiet reading I go into the kitchen to start dinner. I have in mind one of my healthiest and most complicated recipes. But the Leprechaun is standing next to the kitchen table, a totally different cookbook open before him: One Hundred Casseroles You Can Throw In the Oven In Five Minutes. "Do you really want to spend the rest of the day cookin' and cleanin' up?" he asks, tilting his head to one side.
I snap. "Yes! Yes I do! You've been interfering with my work all day long, and I've had enough!" I yell.
He draws himself up to his full height, and placing his hands on his hips, he looks sternly through his triangular glasses. "There, now! That's what I get for trying to help! And me thinking that a quick casserole would give you time to clear all this clutter out of the kitchen!"
His change in tactics catches me off guard. Maybe he's right! I think, looking at the stacks of miscellaneous junk on the counters. I throw the casserole together, stick it in the oven, and prepare to clean.
"In a minute," the Leprechaun says, pointing to a cup of tea he's made me, and mumbling around the crumbs of one of the cookies on the plate in front of him. "Where are those fancy catalogs that came yesterday? Why not take a minute before you get started?"
I succumb weakly to the temptation. Before I know it, the casserole is ready, the children are hungry, my husband is arriving home, and the kitchen is just as cluttered as it was before.
I sigh, vowing to myself that this time the pest isn't going to linger all the way through until we really do hit vacation time. This time, I'll deal with him the right way. This time, I'll get rid of him the only way that works, the only way I know how.
Tomorrow morning. I'll head him off at the snooze button.