Denise homeschooled her 4 children and has stories. She provided art lessons for many children in the homeschool community for many years.
The Winter of Depresion
The year my Dad passed was a particularly heavy year for me. Dad had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and was operated on in November. My teenage daughters had decided to go live with their biological father that following June and by December, my Dad was gone. That winter had been a long cold season of grief and loss. I was barely coherent for my stepchildren who still lived with me. That next April 1st, I woke up and realized that I had been a zombie going through the motions all winter. It’s very hard pulling yourself out of an extended depression. Sometimes you just have to find something to laugh about. I felt like if I didn’t laugh that day, that I would die. So being April Fools Day, I got up and planned some practical jokes to play on my sweet teenage stepchildren.
The Bathroom Prank
I knew that my stepdaughter would be first to get up and she would stumble into the bathroom and plop herself down onto the throne without turning on the light or even opening her eyes. I had seen this happen so many times before. So I quickly went to the kitchen and retrieved the honey and the scotch tape. I smeared honey on the toilet seat and taped the toilet paper roll so that you can’t find the end (don’t you just hate that?). Then I went into the living room to wait for the bomb to go off. It didn’t take long. The anticipation built when I heard her roll out of bed and skuff into the bathroom. Pause. Wait for it. “Hey, Mom, something is on the…. Eeeww, it’s honey!” That’s when I started laughing. I laughed and laughed. It was such an unfamiliar sound that my precious step-son rushed out of his room in total awe and concern, his eyes the size of saucers. He must have thought I had a psychotic break or something. But when I said “April Fools,” then it was on. I never found out if my stepdaughter smelled the honey or tasted it but it was funnier to imagine. We spent the rest of the day pulling great joke after joke on each other.
This morning when I put on my underwear I could hear the fruit-of-the-loom guys laughing at me.
— Rodney Dangerfield
My son at the age of 14, felt adept with tools and took the screws out of the refrigerator handle and attached it with honey so that when I went to open the fridge, I stood there looking at the closed door with a handle in my hand. A handle, I might add, that was difficult to let go of because it was covered with honey. (The honey got quite the workout that day). I laughed and he did too. Then I made him put the screws back so I could open the refrigerator.
If your family is like mine, you have hoards of single socks with no mate. Who knows where the mate goes. Some theories are that these singles are sucked into a black hole in the dryer where a family of one-legged people live. Other theories are that it never made it to the wash and is under someone’s bed and diligence will turn it up. With the latter theory in mind, I always refused to throw away single socks just in case the mate turned up. Because of that, we had a laundry basket full of singles. Early in the day, I spent some time rolling these spare socks into balls. I put the whole basket of spare sock balls into the foot of my son’s bed, slyly after he made the bed. When he thought the day of pranks was over and he slid into his bed, he found many lumps. My husband wanted to breath easier after they went to their rooms but I put up my hand and made him be quiet and wait for it. The boy came out with armloads of socks and said, “Good one, Mom.”
Later he took the screws out of the hinges of the bathroom door so that opening it meant you had to hold it up or be crushed by it… all the while needing the facilities inside the room. He caught his sister and me with that one. At one point, I remember screaming and laughing at the same time. He had to hold the door for me while I used the facilities. Luckily, he did take the hinges out of the front door. That could have been a disaster.
Spaghetti Tree Prank 1957
We did some reading about other practical jokes for April Fools Day. One of the best was the commercial about the Italian girls harvesting spaghetti from the spaghetti tree. If you are gullible or else don’t know where spaghetti comes from you may have been one of the thousands who not only believed it but wrote to see if you could get your own spaghetti tree. My kids found that one very funny.
A sense of humor is good for you. Have you ever heard of a laughing hyena with heartburn?
— Bob Hope
It was my son’s idea to prepare for his dad’s return from work by placing clothes around the room as if we had been raptured out of them and his dad had been left behind. We all got into it and placed our clothes, even socks and shoes, in the chairs we would normally be sitting in. Then my son put on the movie “Left Behind” so that it was playing as his dad came in, and we all hid. I’m sure it was the movie that gave the over-the-top clue that it was a prank. He stood in the middle of the room only a few seconds before calling his son. Now if we had truly been raptured, no one would be there to answer, but the boy couldn’t help himself. He answered, “Yes, dad.” That’s when his dad told him he shouldn’t have left his bike in the driveway. That bike he had worked on and sanded and repainted till it was like new, his dad said was now under the car. The boy exclaimed “oh NO,” and ran out of the house to go see. His dad calmly said, “April Fools,” and slammed the door. Good one dad. He never missed a beat. He knew what day it was.
Laughter heals all wounds, and that's one thing that everybody shares. No matter what you're going through, it makes you forget about your problems. I think the world should keep laughing.
— Kevin Hart
Good Joke vs. Bad Joke
My son was exploring jokes that day. He wanted to put salt in the sugar bowl for his dad. He wanted to create a blank letter for his sister from the boyfriend she had been waiting for a letter from for weeks. I had to explain the difference between a good joke and a bad one. A good one is where we all get to laugh; a bad one is where the prankster laughs but the recipient of the prank is hurt or embarrassed. His dad would not laugh at salt instead of sugar and his sister would not find a blank letter funny. It became a day of healing laughter and also teaching opportunities.
A Time of Bonding
I felt so much better after that day of bonding and laughter with my step-kids. We talked, we laughed, we shared dreams, and I got to thank them for their long-suffering with my long period of grief. What good kids to let me have that time to grieve and then recover.
Good practical jokes are worth a million of dollars of therapy. It is true, laughter is the best medicine.