Friday, October 14, 2016

The Lost Art of Pranking

"Mamma, do we have a funnel anywhere in this house?"

We'd just finished dinner. Ethan's soccer practiced had been cancelled and he had a gleam in his eye. The request piqued my interest.

"Why do you want a funnel, Ethan?"

"Because I want to do a prank." He'd just been reading a Captain Underpants book. Don't ask, but apparently Captain Underpants is big with boys his age...and also provides plenty of fodder for kids interested in pranking others. I'm not so sure this is a good thing.

"We don't have a funnel anymore, Ethan. Or maybe there's one somewhere in the garage. You're not going out there to look for that now." It was almost dark.

I heard him rummaging around but was focused on cleaning up the dinner dishes. A few minutes later, he called me.

"Okay, I'm ready to do my prank!"

"Um, Eeth. Usually you don't TELL someone before doing a prank. It kind of ruins it."

He ignored me. "Walk past the closet door!"

"Okay," I sighed. "Here I am..."

He burst out of the door. Something wet that smelled exceedingly of fake pumpkin hit my face. Febreeze.

"Agggckkkkhhh!" I yelled. The small headache I'd already had grew exponentially. "What are you DOING?" I tried to calm down as he stood there looking at me serenly.

"Ethan, if you're going to do a prank like that, you can't spray something with chemicals in it in someone's face. That's dangerous. You have to spray water. Pranks are supposed to be harmless."

He put away the Febreeze and was suddenly outside in the growing darkness, looking for something.

"I wanna do that!" Chloe yelled. Chloe's always yelling that. A few minutes later he was back, with Chloe, in the bathroom with the door closed. Water was running. I had just cleaned the bathroom a few hours before.

"Guys, you need to get out of there!" I urged.

"But I'm doing my prank!" he yelled. A few minutes later, he commissioned me to walk by the closet again. This time he accosted me with two water guns...the big kinds, that release a whole gush of water.

"Hahahah, gotcha!" He grinned. I looked down at my clothes, still damp with Febreeze; now with water. In the bathroom the sink was half-full with clogged water and bits of dirt and mud from outside. My clean bathroom. Sigh...

"I wanna fill that with water!" Chloe was yelling.

"No, these are DONE for the night," I ordered, asking Ethan to put them back outside. When he got back in, I told him he needed to do his nightly reading. I was about done with pranks for the night.

"BUT...I was wondering. Do we have a long, thick rope?"

Here we go again. I shook my head.

"How about a short, thick rope?"

Anna appeared. "Let me help you Ethan. I know how frustrating it can be to have an idea but not be able to find the products around the house." Which I thought was quite charitable of her. Except I didn't even want to think about what he'd be using the rope for. She pulled out the proverbial "junk drawer" in the kitchen, which then almost crashed to the floor. Something is wrong with the drawer, most likely because so often children are digging in there looking for treasures like thick ropes.

Alas for Ethan, there was no rope to be found. He got working on something else in the other room. There was more suspicious silence. Silence and children never go together, unless they're reading.

"Mamma, come see my magic trick!" He held out his hand, hiding his thumb. "See my thumb is missing, and I will make it appear. Something was poking into his brand new shirt, under the sleeve. "See how this screw is going right through my hand..." He was pressing a very sharp screw right into his shirt.

"STOP!" I cried. "That's a brand new shirt!"

"AND HERE'S MY THUMB! IT APPEARED!" I think he was looking for applause. I tried to be enthusiastic while simultaneously cautioning him that he could not do tricks that involved sharp items.

"I'm painting, I'm painting," I heard from the other room. Chloe had searched through the craft supplies and was dolloping brown paint all over a paper. At least she had remembered to paint paper instead of the table. Somehow an incredible amount of paint was smeared into her hair.

Deep breaths. "Ethan, you need to do your reading. Now. Tricks are done for the night." A part of me felt bad. We ARE always encouraging him to leave his screens behind and try new things. But I was DONE.

Into the bath went Chloe, after I attempted to wash off some of the paint in the sink. Brown flecks danced with the dirt from the squirt guns. In the bath, too. Brown paint everywhere. My nice clean bathroom. Well, for two hours clean.

Ethan went to read. Chloe got clean. And I remembered why I always feel so tired once we hit about 7 or 8pm. And then I had to laugh.

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