It’s His Birthday. Beware.

Multiple cockroaches in the bathroom? The dog, um, did his job on the bed? There’s a fresh scratch on my car?


No, it’s just my brother and son at work.


The recent flurry of silliness in our home is the result of a box of pranks sent to Zach by Ian, a gift I think it’s safe to say nobody anticipated. Yes, it was Zachary’s 10th birthday on Thursday, and of course his uncle always mails some type of interesting item to him for his big day, but this most recent display of generosity still seemed to come out of nowhere. That’s because the Z-Man, when you inquire about his b-day wish list, lists Legos of varying sizes, “The Lego Batman Movie,” the new “Cars 3” Xbox game (which, somewhat surprisingly, has nothing to do with Lego), a Doug Baldwin (wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks and, for whatever reason, a favorite player in “Madden NFL 17”) jersey, New York Giants tickets (yeah, because we can afford both the tickets and the flight to the Big Apple after our most recent nine-day vacation) and, if I remember correctly, something to do with “Guardians of the Galaxy.” At last glance, there was no prank box on Zach’s radar, but leave it to use his slightly mischievous (and, it should be noted, childless) to put it there.


I got home from work Tuesday night and an package was immediately brought to my attention. Zach had quickly realized that this was Ian’s gift, and he was excited to open it. “Sure,” I said, and we recruited Bec and Grace for the unveiling. While Zach curiously surveyed each item inside, the other three of us cautiously looked at each other and wondered just what we were going to be in for. I think Z’s sister was, safe to say, most apprehensive, as she surmised (not without good reason) that she was going to be the most frequent target of her brother’s new brand of buffoonery.


Perhaps it was because it was something already familiar to him, but Zach immediately took to the whoopee cushion as his favorite. It wasn’t that he tried so much to prank anyone with it, but simply enjoyed sitting on it and pretending he was, in fact, doing something that resulted from, say, eating a heaping helping of baked beans. Videos were taken and sent to family members. Oh, those precious memories. Much juvenile hilarity ensued, but unfortunately (or not) the cushion soon developed a small hole and was rendered useless. That wasn’t before he went down to the street and across the yard to excitedly to show the neighbors that item, as well as a fake finger that appeared to have a nail driven through it and “blood” surrounding the point of supposed impact. Ah, nothing brings the laughs like apparent dismemberment.


It was only a matter of time before a scattering of creepy-looking “insects” had taken residence in our bathroom. Mind you, they didn’t necessarily surprise any of us, but you still can’t help but do something slightly different than a standard double-take when you see something akin to five cockroaches near your shower drain. This delightful display came sometime after Zach had walked into the TV room to announce to me that it looked like someone had scratched my car. This, for a few fleeting moments, I took seriously, as the prank box occurred to me only as I started walking toward my could-it-be vandalized vehicle. The sizable scratch near the front passenger’s side door looked pretty realistic, but thankfully peeled off like duct tape. And, best of all (ha ha) it was reusable, so he could take a shot at his mom’s car later.


The next day, the fake dog poop made a couple of appearances, and a “spider” decided to take up residence on Grace’s blanket. (I’m glad I was at work when Zach played such a joke on our tween daughter.) I also know he was trying to rig up something where this thingamajig sprays water up at you while you’re sitting on the toilet, but I’m not sure if this worked quite as planned. Who knows? Maybe he’s just setting me up to be a slightly-less-suspecting victim.


All in all, I fully realize this collection of practical jokery is all in good fun, and is actually quite harmless in the grand scheme of things. In short, it was an ideal gift for a birthday boy who happens to possess a healthy (and occasionally slightly dark and sarcastic) sense of humor. Plus, he did get Legos, too — and a little bit of what every kid likes on their birthday, which is cold hard cash. Maybe he’ll be able to put a small percentage of a down payment on Giants tickets. Then again, maybe he’ll try to use the (clearly) counterfeit money sent by Uncle Ian instead.