We bought our 9-year-old son (8 at the time) a magic set for Christmas last year. It was a huge hit and he actually got pretty good. He put on magic shows every time we had guests over and drug it along whenever we went to someone’s house. Naturally, the novelty eventually wore off and he gradually used it less and less.
Fast forward to this summer where one of the counselors at his camp occasionally entertained the kids with magic and card tricks. My son thought this was great and dabbled a little over the summer, practicing from time to time. A week or two before school started, he discovered a magician named Shin Lim. Almost overnight, he developed an obsession (and I do mean OBSESSION) with the art of illusion.
I have to say, at first, I was honestly impressed (and a little concerned) by his skills. His sleight of hand would make any storekeeper nervous. He has a natural gracefulness I didn’t know he possessed. That combined with his lightning speed made my jaw drop more than a time or two.
As the days progressed and he started working on new illusions, we critiqued him on his effectiveness and offered suggestions on how to distract his audience. We took him shopping so he could spend his limited cash on new decks of cards. (Apparently, you go through quite a few cards as they get “eaten,” made to disappear, and accidentally lost when you drop the entire deck on the floor every 10 steps. It’s hard when you have little hands.) We rummaged through drawers around the house looking for jumbo paperclips and toothpicks, critical tools for a master of illusion. He continued to study Shin Lim videos and we explained to him the psychological foundation of illusions. It all started coming together in his mind, feeding his obsession… and grating on our nerves. I’ve told people I went from being completely impressed with his sleight of hand to praying, “Please make it stop!”
For weeks now, there has been a constant hum of:
“Are you ready?”
“Are you ready yet?”
“How ’bout now?”
“I’m sorry! Just one more time.”
“Please? Just once more.”
My husband and I will be talking and our son will literally insert himself between us with no regard for personal space or the social skills he once possessed. Frequently my husband and I can be 12-18 inches apart having a conversation. The kid will slither between us, low to the ground, with a deck of cards in-hand. He will slowly stand erect, sandwiched between us, and suddenly wave a deck of cards in one of our faces and say, “Pick any card,” or pretend to vomit an entire deck of cards then yell, “Did you see that?!?! How’d I do?”
I’m truly so happy he has found a positive, creative outlet, but I’m about to do an illusion of my own. Poof!