I recently clicked on an intriguing headline in Men's Health magazine promising "Five Sneaky Ways to Raise Smart Kids." Of course, this being a magazine about men's health, I first had to endure pop ups promising "MIND BLOWING SEX" and "HOW TO LOSE UGLY BODY FAT IN FOUR WEEKS" but eventually my web browser calmed down long enough for the article to appear.
The tips were a combination of intriguing -- tell them to go climb a tree because it fosters creative thinking and problem solving skills (along with the occasional broken arm) -- to logical -- make them earn an honest paycheck. If, after implementing these two suggestions, your child still seems stupid, you can always try the remaining three: Offer them $20 to learn to juggle, teach them to play chess and praise the work, not the winning.
After completing the article, I was relieved to know my two girls are recipients of all five. Sort of. One plays chess while the other can juggle. They perform household chores for income and my wife and I can often be heard yelling, "Good job!" from the bleachers even when their sports teams are being slaughtered. And both would eagerly climb trees if our subdivision contained one over four feet.
But, as my oldest slogs through the ACT exam and prepares for summer job interviews and college admission queries, I want her brimming with confidence. Which is why I have compiled my own list: Five easy ways to appear smarter than you are.
These work for adults, too, and do not require investing in juggling balls.
1. Always carry a pencil behind your ear. Every guy who has ever showed up at my house to do home improvement projects has one. Occasionally they will use it to perform some drywall calculations; other times it just remains resting against their temporal bone for the entire day. But I've always been amazed by what these pencil-wielding dudes can do with a drab kitchen or patio, so there must be some merit to it.
2. Wear a USB flash drive around your neck. Capable of holding gigabytes of data, or nothing at all, these devices come in a variety of colors so they can accessorize any outfit. More importantly, having one on your person gives the appearance that you possess important information, created by you. I always thought that if President Obama wore our nation's nuclear launch codes as neck bling, he would be taken more seriously by other world leaders.
3. Clothe yourself in a business suit and Stetson hat. I frequently see this ensemble while walking through Texas airports. While it may be an egregious fashion faux pas, I always associate it with "billionaire oil tycoon."
4. Get a tattoo of an inspirational, non-controversial figure. Be careful with this one. Teens who, five years ago, chose Miley Cyrus are now kicking themselves while Googling "cheap tattoo removal" multiple times daily. Even historical icons like Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela contain baggage, so go with something safe. I suggest Derek Jeter or Miles Scott, the young Make-A-Wish cancer survivor who, last November, became Batkid for a day.
5. Stuff a reporter's notebook in your back pocket. Occasionally whip it out and write in it. Never let anybody see the contents, for it may contain nothing more than a grocery list. The important thing is to make it appear you are writing profound ideas. Take it a step further by recording these thoughts as voice memos on your cell phone, but make sure you do it surrounded by plenty of passersby. I'm convinced Steve Jobs did this just prior to developing the iPod.
That should be enough to get your child, or yourself, started. If you need more, feel free to email me.
Better yet, look up. I may be sitting in a nearby tree.
Copyright © 2014 Greg Schwem distributed by Tribune Content Services, Inc.