April Fools' for Kids: Playful or Pitiful?
Hooray, April is just upon us! This means our houses are getting cleaned (yeah, right), the kids are on spring break (oy, vey), and getting that perfect summer bod is a top priority (right after you eat a sleeve of thin mints). Well, the joke's on us.... or rather them.... That's right! It's April fool's time.Time to break out the funny and fool your friends and family with good old-fashioned pranks.
But how about the little ones? Is playing April Fool's jokes on the kids okay? Or could we be sending the wrong message about what's funny /appropriate at an inappropriate age?
A few weeks ago, I actually got a glimpse into the world of a "four year old's funny ha ha." One day, my ex- husband dropped my son back off at my house, and before he left said, "Oh, let's play that joke on Mommy!!" My son squealed, grabbed a bottle of what appeared to be blue dye and started spraying it everywhere... My shag rug, my ottoman, my shirt...
"What are you doing?!" I screamed. "Ha! Ha!" they both cheered. "We got her!" "this isnt funny!" I insisted. "it's a joke, mommy, it's invisible ink!" I was far from amused and wanted to strangle my ex. Is being funny at someone else's expense (and anxiety) a great lessen or example for a young child? Even though the blue dye came out, this "prank" felt problematic...
My concern is that my son is still learning proper social cues. Not sure that he needs to be the kid in Kindergarten that's constantly pulling pranks and jokes... it's a little too soon and it may be off putting for children who don't grasp "the joke" portion of a prank yet. On top of it, considering my son loves to do anything to get me to laugh, I'm concerned that alerting him to April Fools, a day entirely dedicated to jokes, will result in a MONTH entirely dedicated to shtick and pranks... And a (now) blue shag rug.
Still, perhaps there are some mild ways to poke fun of the holiday and create some family laughter. While I assume most parents won't wake up their child by saying, "Honey, I have terrible news. The dog has died," I feel like there must be some things you could do that could go down in family memory album as funny. I asked our community if they thought pranks for kids were YAY or NAY and here's what they had to say:
"My son is already a goofball/prankster at 2 y.o. It's just his personality. He once freaked me out so much that it left me in tears -- let's just say he played dead so well while we were stuck in LA traffic that I had to pull the car over. He thought it was a riot. So, I might engage him in a little April Fools antics and together we can make his dad laugh. Am I horrible?"
"I think fun, benign tricks are okay, particularly at daddy's expense. Dye the milk blue, turn a chair upside down, orange juice in the creamer...silly can't hurt anyone tricks. On St. Patrick's I dyed the toilet water green and they loved it!"
"I agree with Katie - if they're lighthearted and fun, it's a great idea. I absolutely hated that series of "jokes" Jimmy Kimmel did last year where the parents videotaped themselves telling the kids they ate all their Halloween Candy."
So it sounds like we all agree: playing a harmless joke on dad is fun, but playing dead or disturbing the kids a la "I got your candy, ha ha ha ha" is just downright mean. So, this year, due to my son's age, and a desire to keep the colors in my house as is, I will personally be holding off on starting a family fool's fun day.
But for those of you with older kids, who won't wake up every day expecting to see their Teddy bears dressed in clothes or dad's cereal with red milk, have a ball. But seriously, just don't forget about that summer body... Because you, at a pool... um, that's no joke. Just kidding. Kind of.
Let me know what you have planned for April Fool's day.