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Kid challenge: Doing the impossible. Are you game?

POSTED: August 3, 2014 5:00 a.m.
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We don't remember days, we remember moments.

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Boredom. The dreaded word usually related to summer break when kids are at home day after day and suddenly realize they have done everything. Their little minds panic and the long whine comes out, “I’m boooorrrreeeddddd……” This usually is followed by a tugging on your pants or a poking in the chubby part of your arm. After you get over the embarrassment of your child’s finger getting lost while looking for your tricep, consider this: As a parent you have a right to ask the impossible of your children. That’s right. In fact last spring we did this very thing, to the delight of our children.

It was early on St. Patrick’s day when my son came bursting into our bedroom and announced that we had been robbed! Of course, we shot out of bed, after stifling our giggles with the comforter, first, running into the room of question. In the kitchen we found our beloved wooden “kitchen lady” ( a statue of an over plump woman I bought in Poland years before, much to my husband’s horror.) She had been bound and gagged. Below her was a tiny note written in green ink:

Dear Children,
You see we have bound and gagged your beloved kitchen lady. We, leprechauns get a bad wrap! We demand tribute! To free her, you must succeed in 3 tasks before dawn tomorrow:

Build a fort out of sheets and chairs, the largest fort will only do. Fill it with pillows and books.Create a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.Commandeer snacks from the closet and fill the fort with goodies.

Only after you have filled our demands will you get your kitchen lady back! Fail, and the fat lady gets it!

Yours sincerely,
The Leprechauns

The set up was complete with tiny footprints made out of flour and doll feet, sprinkled with gold glitter. The kids went wild, my 11-year-old boy included, and set to work on their fort. Our home that day was filled with giggles and laughter as they completed the 3 demands, to include a huge paper rainbow, a cooking pot filled with all the gold costume jewelry they could find and all our snacks pilfered into the fort. After they finished we wrote a sassy letter back to the leprechauns and spent the evening with the whole family reading stories in the fort. It is a memory I will never forget.

Here are some tips for your own prank:

Keep it simple. You don’t want your 4 year old in tears because he can’t fill the demands. Keeping it simple increases the fun. This doesn't mean it can't be challenging, just age appropriate.Make it a team effort. Get your kids to work together to fill the tasks given.Document your deed. Take pictures, keep the notes and special small tokens of the day. You will want to look back on it later.Tie in a holiday or event, like patriotic lego men or terrible tom turkeys, this will help make it a tradition your children will look forward to every year.Set a time limit. This will get your kids blood pumping.Have fun with it. Get the whole family involved.Make it interesting. Make the tasks involved something your child is interested in whether it means collecting 10 worms or making a glittery poster.Make it impossible. Give them something to think about, for example, ask them to make a pig fly or a lego man climb a mountain.Make it heroic. Like our fat damsel in distress, give the kids a reward at the end, some toy to rescue or treasure to uncover.

Here are some prank ideas:

A scavenger hunt. Set up a note from pirates who have stolen the iPad, game controllers, etc. Include a map in the note leading the children to their toys with tasks to complete along the way. This can be as small as a room or your yard or as large as around town or a road trip, it’s up to you. Backyard Fairies. Use the backyard as a staging ground for kids to meet the request of the fairies. Leave tiny cups and chairs around the yard. Have the fairies ask the children to help build her a palace out of sticks and leaves in a designated spot and furnish it. This is an all-afternoon outdoor game the kids will love. In the end of the note let the kids know there will be a reward waiting for them in the morning, such as mini muffins for breakfast or other tiny treats. Have your children collect photographs of things that are unusual like a close up of a flower or an ant. Whatever you decide to do, be a part of it. Your children will remember moments with each other longer than gifts or toys. Help them make memories they will want to pass on to their children.

Shannon and Erin are a mother and daughter with lots of children and Utah and Oregon roots.

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