Last weekend, we celebrated Short’s birthday. He turned five and I turned nostalgic thinking that he was a tiny baby such a short time ago. We had a lovely party in our backyard, and after all the guests left, Short opened his presents. Imagine his delight when he received a magic kit.
Now, the writing on the box clearly stated: “Appropriate for age 5,” but what they should have added in bold letters was “if you are a genius.” Luckily, we have a resident genius, and his name is: Tall.
Tall immediately commandeered the gift.
“Short, hand it over because I can help you with it,” he said unhelpfully. He tore the plastic wrap off, and unceremoniously dumped the contents onto the coffee table.
Short, predictably, was not happy. “I want to do it! It’s my birthday!”
“No, you’re too little,” replied Tall, his voice oozing condescension, “and you can’t even read.”
Smelling tears in our near future, I was forced to intervene.
“Tall, this is Short’s present, not yours. Give it back to him.”
“Fine.” Tall walked off to find his latest issue of “Advances in Nuclear Physics Monthly.”
I sat down on the couch with Short and started to read the instruction book. At this moment I was cursing myself for not learning Japanese, German, Russian, or Ikea for that matter. I finally found the instructions printed in American. What a relief.
Not so fast. The kit contained about 78 different tricks, each with its own complex diagram and multi-step directions. This looked way harder than the magic kits I remembered as a child, which mostly involved a penny and a double-sided ace of spades.
There was the disappearing coin. The coin that turns into two coins. The special box that you can put the coin in, and then poke “nails” through and still not permeate the coin. There were also trick dice, black hats, instant smoke, silk flowers, velvet capes, and live rabbits.
Our living room looked like David Copperfield had vomited up Las Vegas.
I was clearly way out of my magic league. I looked around and thought hard. “Tall! Sweetie!” I called out, my tone a medley of sunshine and sparkle, “We forgive you! Come back now!”
Tall swooped into the room, smiling. His expression said, “I knew you would call me back sooner or later.” His voice said, “Uh, you need some help?”
Ten minutes later, Tall and Short were ready to perform a special magic show.
“Prepare to be amazed, Mommy!” exclaimed Short, after a nine-minute tutorial with Tall. They performed trick after trick, getting most of them right. When a stray coin fell on the floor, ruining one illusion, they laughed like pros.
“That was supposed to happen,” explained Tall, “to distract the audience.”
The Husband had been out in the yard cleaning up, and he chose this moment to walk in.
“I see we are having a magic show!” he clapped his hands together in exaggerated excitement.
Tall and Short looked at each other. “We can start over, I guess,” said Short. After a flawless encore performance, Tall looked over at Short and said,
“Now I’ll help you with that Build-Your-Own-Robot gift. Mom, do we have a blowtorch?”