Kids think April Fool’s Day is one of the best days all year, because they get to play pranks and even tell lies and say “April Fools” and think all is forgiven. The other 364 days per year they leave parents wishing reality was actually a joke.
The origins of April Fool’s Day trace back to the 16th century when the Gregorian Calendar moved New Year’s Day from April 1 to January 1. News traveled slow back then and people still celebrating on April 1 were called April fools and became the subject of pranks. Fair enough.
Today, kids might be likely to pull silly pranks or make up outlandish stories to try to get you to bite. And, it’s all in fun. But what they don’t realize is that some of the things they try to get away with are even more outrageous than the jokes.
How many times as a parent have you found yourself saying, “You can’t be serious” or “Please tell me this is April Fool’s Day”? I’ve said just that few too many times.
When your kids are younger they say those cute things that make you laugh such as “I flushed the baby’s diaper down the toilet.” Or “Mom, the dog is pink”. You know it’s going to be a disaster, but you can’t really blame them at that age for doing or saying something serious that seems like it’s a joke.
But as they get older, they’re starting to learn their limits, but know enough to push the boundaries enough to drive any parent crazy. “Have you seen my flip flops?” came out of my middle-schooler earlier in the week while there was still snow on the ground.
Sometimes a sarcastic answer comes out of my mouth such as “You can’t seriously think I would let you do that.” But then I catch myself and realize they do think I would let them, and I have no idea why.
Earlier this year, one put an apple core in the other’s underwear drawer. “Please tell me you’re joking” came out of my mouth when the younger one refused to wear the underwear because it smelled funny. Maybe that would have been a good April Fool’s prank, but not when mommy found out.
I thought I was pretty consistent in communicating what’s OK and what’s not, but apparently there are way too many fine lines. Or, it’s that selective attention thing that kids are so fond of. I think I say no more than yes, but there’s those times when I like to surprise them and do something totally inconsistent, like when we went to Disney when our teachers went on strike.
I got to be the hero after years of being the bad guy when we finally got a puppy. Now, I get to go back to bad guy, because I won’t let them have a chinchilla. Why? They ask. And I can’t even think of a good enough answer so they just keep asking.
Perhaps that’s why I think as parents we still keep getting those outrageous questions that are not really jokes.
So before the joke’s on you this year, have a little fun and tell them they can breed Palmetto bugs in the basement, or have that sleep over with the whole class. Then you can say “April Fools” and it will be okay to be the bad guy for one day.