“Come on, Jake! It will be fun!” The words echoed in Jake’s head, bringing him headache. “It’s April Fools’ Day anyway! It’ll be a harmless prank and nothing else,” his friends insisted. Jake wasn’t so sure.
He loved his friends, but the truth was that sometimes being with them was stressful. He hated it whenever they put pressure on him to do things he really wasn’t keen on, because he felt his palms sweat and his heart beat faster. So, sometimes he just pretended he was ill, or busy with school homework, or even grounded.
Like today, April Fools’ Day. For Jake, a nightmare; pranks, hoaxes and practical jokes on other people. That was so insensitive, so cruel! No, it was impossible for Jake to be a part of all this, not even for the sake of his friends. “Not in their wildest dreams!” the thought played in his head like a song. So he texted them all:
“Hay fever. Sorry guys. Go on without me.”
“Ok. See you at school then.”
So now he was alone in his room, having the day to himself. He wanted to make the day special, full of kindness and love. So he decided to do things that bring the others or himself happiness. It wasn’t an easy task but in the end of the day he would be proud of himself. And so he did.
First of all, he decided to tidy up his room. He made his bed, clothes in the wardrobe, shoes in the shoe closet, games on the bookcase, old toys in a bag for charity. It was about time to get rid of them and donate them, so that they would be useful for other children. He could also donate older clothes, that didn’t fit him anymore. He decided to discuss it with his mother later at dinner.
Then he sat at his desk, thinking of what else he could do to make someone happy. After a lot of thought, he came up with an idea: to write thank-you notes to friends who had helped him in the past. So he texted his friend Alex:
“Thank you for helping me with Math. I don’t know what I would have done without you.”
“Don’t mention it.” Alex’s reply.
Then it was George’s turn: “Thank you for letting me use your iPod last month.”
“Any time, mate.” George’s reply.
Jake was happier than ever. His plan worked perfectly and the day was getting better and better. He decided to do something good for himself too. So he tried to come up with three things he was thankful for in his life. The first thing he could think of was that he had such a good and supportive family. His mother was so understanding and his father too. Whenever he needed them, they were there for him. The second thing he was thankful for was that he was born in a war-free country. He had heard so many things about war that even the thought of it scared him to death. And the third thing he was thankful for was his access to education. He knew full well that all these were unknown for some kids, whose present and future were uncertain. He felt lucky and blessed. And he decided there and then to make a change in himself that would make him a better person: to always respect the others, all people from all walks of life.
Another thing he could do was to apologize for something bad he had done. The only think he could come up with was lying to his friends about that day. Maybe he should have explained to them how he felt about April Fools’ Day and pranks. It would have been more difficult, but more honest. Jake suddenly felt guilty and decided to text them there and then.
“Sorry about today, guys. See you at school tomorrow.”
There was no answer, so Jake inferred that maybe they were busy doing pranks. Suddenly, their silence was unbearable, and tortured his soul. He wasn't with them, and that was the worst punishment of all.
The last good deed he wanted to do that day, was to have dinner with his family. Usually he was busy with after-school activities and had dinner alone, or with his mom. Today he wanted to have dinner with both his parents. So he went downstairs to his mother and helped her with the preparation of dinner. His mother was surprised to see him there, in the kitchen, with an apron on. She was making spaghetti carbonara and cake for dinner. Jake loved spaghetti carbonara, it was his favourite dish.
When finally they all had dinner today, Jake told them everything about his day. How he refused to play practical jokes on people with his friends and how he lied about suffering from hay fever to stay at home and do good deeds instead. He thought he saw a tear in his mother’s eye and his father looked at him proudly.
“Jake, you have to learn to stand up for yourself,” said his father finally. “Lying isn’t the best option. Of course, all the good deeds you did today were amazing. We are both proud of you, son.”
Jake realized that not all things in life are easy. Sometimes we hurt people, sometimes we get hurt. Sometimes we are wrong and sometimes we are right. We have to learn to live with these instances because they are part of life, of growing up. That is how we mature, and get experience. But no, by no means would he hurt people intentionally, and play a practical joke on them on an April Fools’ Day. He would devote this day to doing good deeds, just like he did this year. And maybe he could try to persuade his friends to do the same. It’s so much more rewarding and fun.
Jake finally collapsed in bed, exhausted but happy. Tomorrow was a new day, it was spring and he didn’t want to miss a thing. He wanted to enjoy the nature, the flowers and the trees. He already missed his friends and school. He closed his eyes and fell asleep instantly.