A Grudging Acceptance of April Fool’s Day

I have never liked April Fool’s Day. The idea of pranking people rubs me the wrong way. I can’t get on board with the idea of tricking people and then laughing at them when they embarrass themselves, either through some act of physical comedy (plastic wrap over the toilet bowl!) or gullibility (ha ha – you actually believed that!).

Laughing at myself is a skill that I never really mastered and so I hate to be on the receiving end of such tricks.

My children, on the other hand, are enchanted by the idea of April Fool’s Day. They see it as some sort of child empowerment holiday – an opportunity for the kids to turn the tables on the unsuspecting adults, seeding chaos with impunity, all in the name of good fun.

I’m usually hesitant to play along with their tricks because it just isn’t fun for me, but this year I relented. We all need bright spots in the midst of quarantine and if they found theirs in elaborate hoax plans, so be it.

My kids sequestered themselves for hours on Tuesday, plotting, scheming, and giggling madly. They would emerge periodically, ordering me to avert my eyes while they rounded up necessary supplies. My morning routine was interrogated – what time was I planning to get up? Was I going to shower? When was I intending to walk the dog?

In the early hours of the morning, I awoke to the sounds of attempted stealth. Someone was crawling into my room, their secrecy marred by the enthusiastic whuffling and tail-wagging of the dog, who was delighted by this new game. I pretended to stay asleep and the intruder retreated. I learned later that my son had intended to change the time on my alarm clock but wasn’t able to manage his task in the dark. One point to mom.

Shortly thereafter, my children tiptoed into the room, carrying a tray and announcing that they had made me breakfast in bed. I accepted their sweet offering of an undercooked Eggo waffle, laughing to myself that they had misunderstood the idea behind April Fool’s Day and were simply using it as a chance for nice surprises.

Then I took a sip of the milk…which they had generously salted.

Well played, children. Well played.

When I returned from walking the dog, they had turned all the lights off in the house and set the white noise machine to play a rainstorm. They then proceeded to march out of the bathroom like zombies, each wearing a Halloween costume. Not a scary costume, mind you. Just dress-up clothes. Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, a super-hero cape, and a sparkly red dress. Their idea of zombie makeup was to apply lipstick and eyeshadow.

I considered locking the door while I showered, but I didn’t want to deprive them of their fun. I smelled the shaving cream before I event got out and so was not completely surprised to discover that my eyeglasses and the door handle were both liberally coated. I was, however, utterly taken aback by the realization that they had stolen all of my underwear from my dresser drawers.

They were so proud of their accomplishments – and enjoying such a welcome moment of sibling unity – that we declared April Fool’s Day to be a school holiday and skipped the daily work assignments. That’s one of the silver linings to home isolation. You get to make your own rules.

I won’t say that I’ve been utterly converted on the subject of pranks. My mother warned me about the soap on my toothbrush before it actually went into my mouth and for that I am deeply grateful. My good humor might not have lasted through that experience. But I do love to see my kids working together and having fun. These are stressful times. We need laughter wherever we can find it.

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