What does a 9-year-old boy need to know?
April 18, 2013 1:40 PM   Subscribe

I will be giving a newly minted 9-year-old gentleman of my acquaintance a wallet for his birthday. I was thinking of printing and laminating a card full of important reference information for a young man of his age. Sort of an ultra condensed Schott's Original Miscellany. What should I put on it?
posted by Capn to Grab Bag (27 answers total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: A properly scaled ruler running down the edge (English on one side, metric on the other.)

Also: "If you ever travel back in time don't touch anything."
posted by griphus at 1:43 PM on April 18, 2013 [15 favorites]

I've often wished I gave this quote to my young self to wrap my head around:

Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

Also this.
posted by rada at 1:46 PM on April 18, 2013 [5 favorites]

Very neat Idea!

A picture of poison oak and an admonition not to touch it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:48 PM on April 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Morse code? Some other code like the basic tic tac toe substitution code?

Also some of the stuff in this AskMe might be useful.
posted by Wretch729 at 1:49 PM on April 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you're going to give a quote, I think this one by Kurt Vonnegut (from Mother Night, excellent book) is perfect for someone about to enter the horrible world of preteens and tweens:
"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."
I think it would also be cool if you could put a few things on there that he could learn that would make him appear grown up and worldly to his peers. Things like different kinds of sushi (nigiri, maki, sashimi, etc) and what different coffee drinks are (latte, cappuccino, macchiato, etc).
posted by phunniemee at 1:53 PM on April 18, 2013 [13 favorites]

The words "Please," "Thank you," "Excuse me," and "I'm sorry" can work wonders.

Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:56 PM on April 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

A good friend of mine got something like this from her aunt when she was 13. Your friend may be a little young to need this, but he's getting older, and he may be old enough to get it now. You be the judge. Here's the plan:

Make a card that is twice the size you actually need. Fold it in half, and then write on both sides of what is now the outside. Tell the young man that this is his emergency card. Include on the card a telephone number that you promise to answer, day or night, if he is in trouble and needs an adult, no questions asked. Advice about stuff he can't talk to his parents about, help getting a ride home from someplace he's not supposed to be, bail money, whatever. Before you laminate it, slip a $50 bill between the two halves, inside the fold. Tell him it's there, and that it's his emergency money, and that it will always be there if he needs it, but that the money is a one-time offer, so he really needs to save it for a situation he can't get out of on his own.

I think that for a person on the cusp of adulthood who is trying to figure the world out, more important than any facts and figures or platitudes is knowing that someone a little older and wiser always has their back, no matter what. So that's what I'd do.
posted by decathecting at 1:58 PM on April 18, 2013 [287 favorites]

If he's an outdoorsy kid, and doesn't have it memorized already, the Edibility Test is useful information. Also, a shadow-tip method diagram.
posted by notquitemaryann at 2:11 PM on April 18, 2013

Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman, then be Batman.
posted by raisingsand at 2:15 PM on April 18, 2013 [8 favorites]

how to tip. no, really. if he's anything like the males i know, he will just keep transferring that card to each subsequent wallet, so it'll be good to have.
posted by koroshiya at 2:26 PM on April 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Maybe not what you're looking for, but right around when I first started carrying a wallet, my dad gave me a copy of "The Man in the Glass". I still have it.
posted by brennen at 2:29 PM on April 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Diagram of how to tie a few simple knots.
posted by backwards guitar at 2:43 PM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Short simple rules for secure passwords.
posted by amtho at 2:50 PM on April 18, 2013

My first wallet card had some family and friends' phone numbers, and the number of a lawyer.
posted by captaincrouton at 3:15 PM on April 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

There is nothing so false it is not a little bit true.
There is nothing so true it is not a little bit false.
Learn to tell the difference.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:31 PM on April 18, 2013

decathecting's response is so perfect that it makes me wish I had 9-year-olds in my life.
posted by Jairus at 4:01 PM on April 18, 2013

It may be too much for your size but I really, really love Robert Frosts's poem "Choose Something Like a Star" and will be sharing it with my own son when he's about that age. Words to live by.

But yeah practical things are really great, things like:

Important Numbers
Edible Plants
Useful Knots

Oh and you should probably buy a Pocket Ref and spend some evenings sifting through it for things you think would be useful to add to the card.
posted by Doleful Creature at 4:38 PM on April 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Could you give him a card that requires him to turn it in to you on his 10th birthday — as demonstration of Superior Responsibility or something — to get a handsome reward and an additional card? Repeat yearly? I looooove this suggestion, but 9 seems a little young to me for that. I'm imagining his 18th birthday when he as 9 cards from you, all with wisdom/advice, and he knows every year he gets another one.
posted by Charity Garfein at 7:39 PM on April 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

TOOOL Emergency Lockpick Card.
posted by brennen at 8:31 PM on April 18, 2013

You could save yourself a step and give him this Mighty Wallet: Wealth of Knowledge.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 8:47 PM on April 18, 2013

Best answer: field guide to animal paw prints
posted by fieldtrip at 10:47 PM on April 18, 2013

Suppose that one side of the card featured advice beginning with Always and the other admonitions beginning with Never? "Always be sure that the shower curtain is inside the tub," and "Never speak to the police without an attorney present," and so on.
posted by mr. digits at 5:22 AM on April 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Diagram of how to tie a few simple knots.
posted by backwards guitar

A good corollary to this would be a diagram of how to tie a tie!
posted by jillithd at 9:24 AM on April 19, 2013

One of these wouldn't give him what he needs to know, but in any given situation where it might come in handy, it could give him the means to use what he knows, or to learn by doing: Victorinox SwissCard.
posted by Zack_Replica at 8:54 AM on April 20, 2013

Oh, and I should mention that the card seems to be about $50, which might be too expensive - there is an equally-handy "Lite" version which seems to be about half the price here.
posted by Zack_Replica at 9:00 AM on April 20, 2013

Morse code is fun, I agree with Wretch729. However, using a Morse code tree like this makes things way, way easier.
posted by zoetrope at 7:36 AM on April 22, 2013 [4 favorites]

The following phrases:

"I can't help you with that."
"I don't know how to respond to that."
"This isn't working for me; let's try something else."
posted by vitabellosi at 4:40 PM on May 29, 2013

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