Never take yourself too seriously. Kids have a way of bringing parents down to earth occasionally and ours have been especially good at this. As April 1st, or April Fool’s Day approaches, I’m reminded of some of the pranks we’ve done as a family, or our kids have done to us. While this might not be a suggestion in a “How to Raise Exceptional Kids” book, we’ve have had some great family bonding times plotting pranks on others. All must be done in moderation, of course, and while TP-ing a house can be all in good fun, think through the possible consequences before launching any type of scheme.
One of our favorite pranks takes place at Christmas time, when the neighbor across the street throws their annual Carol party. Since only adults are invited, this leaves the kids in charge of prank execution. Our neighbors decorate their home tastefully, with good attention to detail both inside and out. A few years back, my husband snagged a particularly gaudy large inflatable decoration at an after-Christmas sale, and we saved it just for this prank. While we were at the party, our kids set the inflatable up right outside the neighbor’s front door, so that when guests left the party, they were greeted with this inflatable that contrasted sharply with the normal tasteful decorations of the home. We acted just as surprised as the other guests, and even postulated on who could have done such a thing. Of course, since we were at the party, we couldn’t be guilty! This went on for several years even after they found out it was us. I believe we have a new inflatable sitting in storage waiting for another opportunity.
Other pranks have included:
- Putting googly eyes on random items – food in the refrigerator, inside a magazine, on my laptop, etc. Always surprising!
- One time Steve and I returned from an evening out to find that the boys had turned everything in the kitchen upside down. When asked what possessed them to do this, they simply stated that it had seemed like a good idea at the time.
- We decided to do “bus stop Fridays” wherein we set up a scene to greet the elementary age kids as they got off the bus. One time, we put a couch outside and were all reading the newspaper and drinking coffee. Another time, we set up a tent, built a campfire, and were roasting marshmallows when they arrived. Neighbors also joined in and the older kids had a great time thinking up fun vignettes. The bus driver thought we were crazy but everyone got a kick out of it.
- One Easter, our daughter went on an Easter egg hunt and was sorely disappointed that she didn’t find a single egg, so about a week later, we hid 50 eggs in her room in very random places. It took her several months to find them all. We also hide our kids’ Easter baskets in increasingly difficult places each year.
- One time while hiking, we kept adding rocks to our son’s backpack each time we’d stop. Someone would distract him and the others would slip a rock in. He had been bragging about what great shape he was in, so it was particularly enjoyable for us adults.
- Putting fake spiders in random places – a particularly good prank for me, since I’m not a fan of bugs.
- We went to Walgreen’s for our flu shots and made a big deal out of screaming out in pain as we got them, which was highly entertaining to the nurse and raised a lot of eyebrows in the full waiting area. It was hard to walk out of there with a straight face.
- My college age son had raised my ire with the way he handled his finances, so when it came time to file his taxes, I sent him a text letting him know the IRS had called and “it can’t be good news”. I then made myself unavailable (“In client meetings, sorry”) and let him sweat for a few hours, then revealed the prank later with a triumphant “April Fools!!”
Pranks can be unifying when the family is all together in a scheme, but I would caution others to make sure they are done in good spirits, are not harmful or singling out others in a hurtful way, and above all, laugh when they are done to you. In fact, one of the best pranks was when I was writing a blog post, and since I often ask the kids to review and edit, one son took that opportunity to change the word, “Santa”, to “Satan” throughout the entire post. I caught the edit, but it made me laugh for days afterward.