My 11-year-old stepdaughter has reached an age where she thinks she's cleverer than me – and to prove her point, the other day she brought home a 'Brain Trickery' book that had been given to her by one of her smarty-pants classmates.
These 'mind-bending' puzzles had my grey matter in knots and brought me to the depressing conclusion that I am not actually cleverer than an 11-year-old.
But we parents must stick together - so why not turn the tables and try them out on your gobby Tweens? Power to the parents!
1. Tell someone to think of the following: What colour is snow? What colour is a white horse? What does vanilla ice cream look like? Now, imagine in your mind: first, a polar bear blinking in a snowstorm. Good, now imagine a blank sheet of paper and you with a pen in hand sitting staring at it. Good. Now quickly, on that blank piece of paper in your mind, write down what cows drink. What did you write? (And, obviously, everyone says 'milk'!)
2. What's 20 + 25? What's 15 + 12? What's 12 x 9? All right – now think of a colour and a tool. (Ninety nine per cent say red hammer – write it somewhere beforehand to make them believe you're psychic).
3. Pick a number between 1 and 10. Multiply it by 9. If it's a two-digit number, add them together. Now subtract five. Right, now map the result to a letter of the alphabet where A = 1, B = 2, C = 3 and so on. Think of a country that begins with that letter. Take the second letter of the country and think of an animal. Think of the colour of that animal. They're thinking of a grey elephant from Denmark!
4. Think of a whole number bigger than zero (eg. 4). Multiply it by itself (16). Add the original number (20). Divide by the original number (5). Add 17 (22). Take away the original number (18). Divide by six (3). The answer is always three.
5. Hold your arms out in front of you and cross them over. Rotate your hands so your palms face each other then mesh your fingers together. Now slowly rotate your hands up between your arms so you're staring at your knuckles. Ask someone to point to one of your index fingers then attempt to move it. You'll move the wrong one!
6. Take a piece of paper with the words 'CARBON DIOXIDE' on it and hold it up at right angles to a mirror. The word 'CARBON' is reversed. But what happens to the word 'DIOXIDE'? (Answer: It is also reversed, but its symmetry enables you to read it).
7) Bet your friend that she won't be able to jump over a coin when you set it down. Have her stand with her arms straight down at her sides and then place the coin on top of her head. If she complains that you tricked her, give her another chance – and put the coin in the very corner of the room!
• Taken from Mindbending Brain Trickery, Lagoon Books.