Why I Lie To Children

Last week, I spent a couple of hours lying to children. It’s the most beautiful lie I can create and I’m hoping they believe it completely. Let me explain…

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These kids are usually ages 5 to 18 and they’re patients at a local children’s hospital — Nemours Children's Hospital — where I perform monthly magic. I stop by the individual rooms and each child gets to experience their own personal show.

When the kid is the right age, I ask them to participate by putting their initials on a quarter, or make a drawing of a smiley face or a butterfly. Then I ask them to clutch the coin in their fist and imagine themselves getting stronger and stronger. I suggest to them that they may even feel the strength come from the top of their head, travel through their head, down the neck, shoulder, arm, and through the fingertips until their fingers become so strong, they can make the coin melt.

They open up their hand and discover their signed quarter is bent. It’s a moment of astonishment.

Teenagers don’t buy the lie, of course. They know I had something to do with it, I’m a magician after all. But when the child is just the right age, they believe it. <They> made the coin bend.

My hope is that by believing this lie — by believing they can use their thoughts to impact the real world and enhance their own abilities — they will fool themselves into being stronger and healthier and be able to recover quicker.

This is total hope — a pipe dream! — and I have no scientific proof of this. Maybe one day someone will prove my hypothesis to be true. Maybe one day scientists will laugh at me. I’m just pragmatic and optimistic, thinking that I can use the power of suggestion to help a child develop physical or mental confidence.

I want to believe that my little experiment has the power to make a positive impact. By making these kids believe they are able to bend a coin with their mind, I leave them with the physically altered souvenir “as a reminder of how strong you are.”

For the kids that believe me, I’m hoping that this little magical lie will become an inherent truth, and they’ll become stronger and braver than they’ve ever imagined themselves to be.