April Fool

1-27-2006 001

“Let’s get the kids,” I whispered to Holly in the kitchen. “For April Fools.”

Her eyes lit up. “What should we do?”

This was the challenge. Until I started to surf the Web this morning, I hadn’t even remembered it was the first of April. I was totally unprepared. Whatever we did, the kids were not expecting it. Although they are nine and perfectly capable of playing jokes on their parents, it was 10 A.M. and neither had made even a feeble attempt.

“I can fall down, stick out my tongue, and thrash around like I’m dying. Then I can jump up and yell April Fools.”

Holly looked at me like I lost my mind.

“We can promise them ice cream, and when they get good and excited tell them April Fools,” I said.

“That’ll impress them.”

I was joking. Okay, half-joking. It’s not easy coming up with a good April Fools joke at the last minute, but I love the idea of nailing the kids. As far as I’m concerned, this is what good parenting is all about.

Going into the living room, I sipped my coffee and waited for something to come to me. I hadn’t been waiting ten minutes, when Holly came into the room and announced we had to give our brand new dog back to its previous owners. I resisted the urge to giggle even as I felt mildly appalled: Dad flopping about on the floor in an epileptic fit seemed less cruel than the specter of losing Pace, our beloved new dog. We just got him in November and he’s really acclimated to our family. I love him, but the kids adore him. Aaron looked at his feet, his face grimly set. Kennedy had her wounded look on and was ready to burst into tears.

“April Fools,” Holly chirped.

I started to laugh.

Aaron and Kennedy both kept their faces neutral, letting the news sink in. The Great April Fools Challenge 2007 had begun.

“I got you so bad,” Holly said to Aaron. “You too,” she said to Kennedy.

They both denied it, but now there was a new look in their eye: revenge.

Later that afternoon, Holly and I were walking Pace and Aaron phoned. Holly answered and listened for a few seconds before sighing deeply with much disgust. I could only hear her side of the conversation, but it was enough.

“The juice spilled?”

In the fridge.

“Did it go all over?”

Pace and I started to silently creep to the other side of the sidewalk. Holly looked about ready to explode. But then she laughed.

“Oh, Aaron. You totally got me,” she said.

They laughed for a bit. The great thing about Aaron is that he is old enough to pull off a awesome April Fools joke like that, but not sophisticated enough to understand that it won’t work again. He immediately asked Holly to pass the phone to me.

“Are you gonna get him?” Holly asked. She looked at me and chuckled. “Maybe you should give it a few more minutes, buddy,” she advised.

When we got home, Aaron pulled the exact same prank on me. I probably should have fell to the floor, stuck out my tongue, and then thrashed around a bit, but instead I just tried my best to look suitably shocked.

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