Prodigy vs. Pushing - FamilyEducation

Prodigy vs. Pushing

February 03,2008
Skaddadle
Todd Lieman

Every parent feels as though their kid(s) is(are) the cutest, smartest, most athletic, most talented, most (whatever). We all want to believe that will be going to the top schools on (academic, athletic, artistic, whatever) full-ride scholarships. We all think the funny little things that they do are unique and that no other kid could possibly be so cute, smart, talented, whatever. But, what if there really is something to the kid’s genius. What if his affinity for playing guitar at two isn’t just a fun curiosity, but is actually something more? What if it’s a sign of actual genius? How do we know the difference between pushing vs. prodigy? K-Man is something of a budding rock star. Every morning, afternoon and evening is filled with at least a few minutes with his guitar (and pick). He even had us create a makeshift strap so he could look just like the guitar teacher in his music class. Unlike so many other toys, his guitar is treated with care – gingerly placed at the end of every “session” on its own chair. The pick is similarly placed on G’s desk – ensuring that it won’t get lost. When we go into stores with guitars, K-Man gravitates toward them and inevitably starts playing. He’ll dance around the store, strumming whatever comes to mind, and sing “Wheels on the Bus” or some other favorite. Just yesterday, a total stranger (yet another total stranger) told G that she should get K-Man into lessons as quickly as possible. “He’s going to be a performer of some kind. That’s not just a kid being a kid,” she told G. Personally, I think that’s probably true. I’ve been around enough little kids K-Man’s age to know that they don’t all love to play guitar. They may all love music, dancing and singing, but they don’t all play sets every morning, afternoon and night, which are always concluded with a resounding, “Thank you so much!” But, what I can’t do is make the leap to, “Oh my gawd! He’s got amazing talent! We need to get him into lessons, pronto.” K-Man is, after all, not quite two-and-a-half. So, where does this lead (and leave) us? I certainly don’t want to push him into something that ruins the mystery and excitement of making music. But, I also don’t want to miss the opportunity to recognize what may very well be his first exhibition of finding a passion. What if he really is on his way to becoming the next great (insert your favorite guitar/rock star here) and we dash the fire by not nurturing the spark? I don’t want to be “that guy.” I don’t want to be the dad that brags all day long about my son’s greatness. I won’t ever be the one who is yelling at his kid to take the ball from his teammates because the teammates might not be as athletic. I want to be the guy whose kid makes the other kids better for knowing him. As a big believer in “old souls” and “following passions,” however, I do find myself at a crossroads. Logically, it seems absolutely insane to think about giving a two-year old guitar lessons. But then…Looking back, I sometimes wish my love of all things creative (especially writing) had been nourished and encourage when I was a kidlet (though, not two, obviously). Logically again, however, I can’t imagine that waiting another year or tow or even three will dampen his musical, guitar playing spirit. So, what to do? For now, I think he’s a future guitar hero. For now, it’s time to let him find his own sound, his own soul. For now, I don’t think there will be lessons. Instead, I think his inner prodigy spark will be nurtured through our encouraging him to continue playing everyday. My hunch is that when he’s ready for more – he’ll let us know.