Apr 012013
Kick me!

They have to work their way up to the really good jokes

If my son were President of the United States, April Fools’ Day would be a national holiday. While he likes to play pranks any day of the year he has a tendency to go into high gear on April 1 and always looks forward to the date with great anticipation. This year was no exception and everyone got in on the act. In fact, there were so many pranks, large and small, that I feel compelled to provide a brief list as a guide for kids interested in getting into the spirit of the day. These pranks are listed in no particular order of complexity or effectiveness.

Switching the sugar and the salt
There are endless variations on this old classic. It helps if you use a salt shaker (when going sugar to salt) because it can be harder to detect tampering. We use a small dish for our salt and we just take a pinch out as needed. This makes it exceptionally easy to add sugar but also makes it easier to detect since the sugar we use is less refined and has a slight brownish tint. When reversing the order and spiking the sugar bowl with salt you’re basically following the same pattern but again need to keep in mind the relative refinement and color of your sugar. However, because the sugar is not being distributed by the pinch it’s more likely the unwary target of the prank will simply spoon out the offending sodium chloride into their beverage or wherever without noticing the change in color or texture until it’s too late.

Our daughter tried the salt in the sugar bowl trick this year but then got cold feet and tried to scrape it off. Merran had made a big point of telling the kids that a good practical joke shouldn’t ruin someone’s day. This caused them to panic when they thought that Merran might try to make tea before leaving for work and tried to warn her not to make tea this morning.

Taping a coin to the floor
Last night after the kids had gone to bed I noticed that there was a quarter conspicuously left on the landing of the stairs. I say conspicuous because our daughter can detect unclaimed cash from a great distance. I had a mild suspicion and so left it until the morning. In the light of day I could clearly see the corners of the tape holding the quarter to the floor and so I waited until I could make a fuss of discovering this potentially confounding free money. When I did find it my son was not surprised at my overly dramatic consternation. He knew that the tape would resist only momentarily and went on to explain that ideally the trick should be performed on the sidewalk with superglue so that the coin would resist all efforts to retrieve it. I mentioned the variation on this prank with money attached to a string and my daughter informed me that this trick would work best with a $50 bill.

The kick-me sign on the back
I’m not such a fan of this one because of its place in the history of bullying although this year our son added an unusual variation on the theme. He stuck a kick-me post-it (glue technology has revolutionized the pranking industry) on his sister’s back with the added message “Kick me and I’ll give you $50”.

One presumes the $50 comes with a string attached.

Swapping the book in the dust jacket
I’m supervising my son’s middle school reading group and we’ve just started Wonder by R.J. Palacio – in hardback, with a dust jacket. I actually like this prank. It’s very simple and if you pick the right book to swap out you might actually trick the reader into going through a page or two before they figure out what’s happened. It’s good for a laugh and also fits Merran’s rule of not ruining someone’s day. Unless the book you’ve substituted is vastly superior to the required reading so the victim is bummed to have to switch back. Careful placement of the bookmark is also key to the illusion of this trick.

Substituting a pillow with several portable tissue packets
This is easily the most bizarre prank executed in our family this year but not at all unexpected from our son. I’m not sure what the original intent of this joke is, or if he got inspiration from some source, or simply made it up out of the aether but when I picked up my pillow as I got into bed last night I immediately discovered three portable tissue packets and a sign that said, “don’t forget to Blow your nose. Happy april fools day”. Perhaps the intent was to be a harmless non sequitur. Regardless, it was just the kind of peculiar mischief to get April Fools off to a good start.

Calling your cell phone in the middle of the night
This one goes back to a sleepover our son had with a friend a while ago but it was so effective it’s gone down in our family lore. When they went to bed the boys managed to sneak a phone into the bedroom. They set an alarm on a watch for 3:00am and, when the time came, they simply called my phone. I keep my cell phone on my bedside table and as part of their preparations they turned the ringer volume up all the way. When my phone rang at 3:00am I sprang instantly – if not lucidly – awake and began flailing for the frantically ringing and buzzing device on the table next to my head. As you might expect from such an unpleasant awakening there were many grumbled swears as I wrestled the phone under control and squinted at the clock. “What the…who’s calling…3:00 in the #$%&@ morning…” I put the phone to my ear and forced my voice to sound awake as if I had just casually been sitting waiting for a call in the middle of the night.


“Hi Daddy! It’s 3:00am! Do you know where I am?”

I’ll get them back. Some day, when they’re least expecting it…

Do you or your kids have any pranks that have been particularly effective?

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Let me know what you think.

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