Dear Future Tom,
Congratulations on becoming a father! I hope all has gone well and the baby is healthy. Knowing you as I do, you’ll no doubt be questioning whether taking advice from someone so young is prudent, especially if it concerns our newborn. However, I must make certain you don’t forget this incredibly important lesson.
Get the kid into magic.
Show them tricks, bamboozle them, make them love it. Read them Harry Potter. Eventually, aged 6 or 7, explain how they are done. Give them your many, many magic books. Introduce them to cards, cups, balls, rabbits, magic wands. (Never realised how perverted magical apparatus can sound). Endure countless magic shows and “dad, watch this trick” moments. Do all this, and you’ll be doing your child more service than any muggles realise.
Why?, I hear you ask. Magic certainly isn’t cool, and isn’t the solitary figure of a child locked in their room on sunny days practising sleights something a father would want to avoid?
Wrong my future friend! Performing magic builds confidence, encourages scepticism and creativity and enhances social skills. Three attributes you defiantly want in your child. Its important to emphasise the performance part though, you don’t want your kid being one of those sad teens on youtube uploading their 13th take of some sleight. Those kids have completely misunderstood the art and purpose of magic.
I can think of no other hobby which can teach a child so much about dealing with new people, developing a questioning, rational mind and all the while improving self esteem. So many of magic’s transferable skills have helped me; in job interviews, at work, at conferences, negotiating lock-ins, earning money, approaching problems logically and creatively, remaining memorable when networking, presentations and, yes, getting laid. (If you’ve had a daughter, this last one doesn’t apply and make sure she doesn’t know the meaning of the words boys or make-up until she’s at least 16)
There is no way you can control this child’s choices in life, nor should you attempt to. There is no guarantee they will become a Nobel prize winning scientist, like their father, or a supermodel, like the ones on tv. But encouraging a hobby that will unwittingly teach them so many life skills? I think that’s a good call.
(aged 24 1/4)