My five-year-old, Jacob, is a master of sleight of hand and deception. There is nothing he enjoys more than savaging an unsuspecting mark with a brutal practical joke. Well, as long as the target is okay with it. And, even then, it’s good to take precautions to avoid any unnecessary mess or inconvenience. It’s important to take a paper towel or two along just in case there’s a mess that requires immediate cleaning up.
Knowing his proclivity for mayhem, my mom saved a trick watch that she got in a cereal box for him to try out. And boy did he wreak havoc with that thing! No person was spared. Of course, he asked everyone if they minded getting water on them first, and if they didn’t, he inquired as to which body part he should aim for. Common courtesy is important for daring tricksters.
His cousin Laura was one of his first targets. Like any good showman, he knows how to identify a pigeon.
“Laura! Do you want to see my new watch?” Jacob called out, masterfully suppressing a chuckle.
Laura seemed dubious at first, but Jacob quickly convinced her that everything was on the up and up.
“I need you to stand up,” he said.
Everything was proceeding according to plan so far.
“Actually, you should come over here by the sink,” he continued.
He’s a natural.
After a few presses on the watch, water squirted out onto Laura just as planned. And right over the sink, too. Sparkling subterfuge and no clean-up required. Win-win!
Later, he turned his sights on me. I overheard him strategizing with my mom as he was readying his weapon of deception in the kitchen.
“If he doesn’t come by the sink, the floor might get wet,” he said. “I know. I’ll point it toward his legs, just in case.”
I’m not sure how that solves the problem, exactly, but I’m not the expert.
He came into the living room wearing the watch and a deadpan expression. Well, except for the giggling.
“Daddy, do you want to see my watch?”
“Okay,” I replied. (Classic me.)
“Stand up. Put your hand here, underneath mine. No! Like this.”
We continued this dance for several seconds until we had all our extremities positioned correctly. The preparation reminded me of The Andy Griffith Show when Barney was showing Andy how he could use judo to stymie an attacker wielding a knife, but continually failed. After consulting his book, he realized that Andy had been attacking him with the knife in the wrong hand.
After everything was arranged properly, our hands were in the right places, and we had draped several towels on the floor to avoid any mishaps, Jacob pressed the watch and a small stream of water trickled out onto my forearm.
“Haha! I’m magic!” he exclaimed.
He sure is.
So, the moral of this story is if my five-year-old ever asks you to stand up and hold your arms in a particular position or come over by the sink or stand in a shower or don a raincoat and galoshes, BEWARE! He might be up to something.