American Traditions: April Fools Day

by cv harquail on March 31, 2011

Au Pairs are both easy and hard to tease. Sometimes humor just doesn’t travel well across cultures, and what’s funny to one group elicits a “Duh?” from another. (Example? Black socks & sandals on German tourists). Then again, there are some pranks, jokes, and tweeks that seem universal (e.g., plastic spiders in the cereal bowl).

With April Fool’s day being tomorrow, we have a chance to play (gently, please) with humor, pranks, and silliness — all the kinds of things that delight kids and draw people into the family fold.

What pranks do you have planned for tomorrow?201103310907.jpg

Hi Au Pair Mom,

I need some funny, harmless, in good taste ideas for April Fools pranks.

A few years ago, we were able to put a good tease on our au pair. We live in an area where there are lots of deer. We gave our AP some rope and told her to keep it in the trunk of the car because if she hit a small deer with the car we wanted her to hoist it up on the car and tie it down and bring it home so we could eat it.

It took her about 5 minutes to realize that we were kidding.

Anyways, we don’t think this year’s AP is quite so gullible so we need something a little more believable. Any good ideas? CaliHostMom

Image: The old “Cherished-Item-In-Jello” Trick…from Kyle and Kelly Adams


aria March 31, 2011 at 9:36 am

I was just on the other day and they had a really cute article about harmless April Fool’s Pranks. Many of them were for small children, but my favorite (and what I’m planning to do to all 6 of my roommates tomorrow!!) is universal- stuff the toes of everyone’s shoes with toilet paper. Maybe I’m cheesy, but I thought that one sounded so funny!

Elle March 31, 2011 at 9:53 am

This is restaurant humor, but if you don’t mind your water bill going up temporarily you could tell her (if you have a fridge with a water dispenser on the door) that the refrigerator is broken and you need her to empty all the water out of it. We played this trick on a girl I work with using the coffee machine and she was three buckets in before anyone told her it was hooked up to the water line and couldn’t be emptied.

azmom March 31, 2011 at 12:15 pm

We’re thinking of putting saran wrap over her door so when she comes out in the morning she can’t. I’ll have a sign from my daughter’s room (with the door shut) that say’s APRIL FOOL’s day! An American tradition!

Much better than what ccollege friends did to a roommate: saran wrap on the toilet. If others have some good ideas, I’ll be watching this post today.

Taking a Computer Lunch March 31, 2011 at 12:16 pm

My grandmother once made pancakes with cotton batting inside, so that they couldn’t be cut. However, the joke turned out to be on her – it was the day after April Fools!

England and Ireland, by the way, are absolutely brilliant at celebrating – there are generally fake news stories and even a feature story in the newspapers. My favorites from when I lived there – driverless buses in Dublin – complete with routes, and a newscast depicting harvesting spaghetti from trees in Italy.

Should be working March 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm

NPR in Chicago (used to live there) once had a loooong story about how there was a mustard shortage affecting the baseball concessions, and later a story about the introduction of high-speed buses with on-board casinos. Both times it took me quite awhile to get the fact that I had been had! Love the idea of harvesting spaghetti from trees.

German Au-Pair April 1, 2011 at 9:25 am

Just out of plain curiosity: what’s withe the Germans wearing black sandals and socks? Never heard of this one. Is it something the German tourist do to the Americans or vice versa?

Calif Mom April 1, 2011 at 11:44 am

There’s your perfect example, CV! The socks/sandals thing doesn’t translate.

I hate to be a party pooper, but I’m leary of April’s Fools jokes with au pairs. It just doesn’t seem kind. I guess it depends on how secure they are themselves; I wouldn’t do much with an overly sensitive or insecure one. Fake news stories are harmless, rather than a physical prank.

I’m so exhausted these days that my 5th grader has been warned to pick a different victim! :-) Which may well by the au pair. Oh dear.

Hmmmm maybe we could drum up something about her favorite celebrity having a drug problem. Oh wait, that’s actual news. :-)

German Au-Pair April 1, 2011 at 6:28 pm

That’s still not an answer :D I do know about the prejudice that German wear white socks in sandals (which really just applies to elderly -at least from my experience) so my guess would be that this is, what it’s realting to? But what’s with the white SANDALS…as far as I know, the prejudice doesn’t say anything about the colors of the sandals?
Oh and I love the idea of April Fools. In Germany there are no real pranks. We just tell stories like “Oh my good, the aquarium is leaking”. So the concept is known in other countries, but actual pranks don’t happen.
Pleeease tell me about this black socks/sandals thing :D

HM Pippa April 1, 2011 at 7:19 pm

I think what CV was referring to is the perception that German tourists wear calf-high socks (black or white) with sandals. And as you say, these sock-and-sandal wearing visitors tend to be men of a certain age. It looks kinda funny to anyone younger than 40. It may not be a specifically German thing–my dad, who is not German but is of a certain age, has also been known to wear higher-than-fashionable socks with his summer footwear. But when an Hollywood portrays “German Tourist” you sometimes get an older gentleman wearing practical, comfort sandals with socks and a man-purse.

Calif Mom April 1, 2011 at 10:14 pm

I’ll see if I can snap a photo or two on my next tourist-y adventure and slip them to CV on the sly…

Of course, there is the stereotype of scientists wearing white socks with dress pants (often that are too short) and brown shoes, too…. :-)

German Au-Pair April 2, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Maybe that’s because Einstein was a German :D

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