While at the park this weekend I met a three year old we will call J. Sure there are tons of kids at Piedmont Park every day but this particular one knows the periodic table backwards and forwards and wants to attend Johns Hopkins University.
Do I have your attention now? Yeah. J and their father were introduced to me by my friend Carla. She was there flying kites, had an extra and had given it to the young tot and the child's dad. After meeting the dad it turns out we had the same alma mater. He graduated in 81. I finished in 89. Then our discussion turned to how it was possible that his three year old knew that K was potassium and AU was gold. He explained that they never let the child watch television. He and his wife believe that we as a society create ADHD in our children by sitting them in front of the boob tube. I immediately thought of Aaron sitting in his Bumbo watching a deck being built on HGTV one Saturday. I immediately thought, "Are we damaging our kid?" We want Aaron to be a smart kid too. Had this guy and his wife stumbled upon some secret with the no tv thing? I wondered. Then he said that they limited the kid's toys. Now I am totally for this. We all know that kids find much more amusement in the box the toy came in than the toy itself. I hate to see kids with many more toys than they could ever imagine playing with. But should I deny my child Rock'em Sock'em Robots if he really wants it? Will this stiffle his ability to grasp physics or remember the pythagorian theorem?(A squared + B squared = C squared. Yes I remember one thing from high school!) The child had also been an early reader, age 2 1/2, and read adult publications. No See Spot Run for this tyke. Now is it challenging to offer your kids all levels of literature that they can comprehend or should a line be drawn? Should we try to capatilize on their amazing sponge-like brains and not allow them the joy of seeing spot run? I was an early reader and writer as well but what I read was still youth appropriate. I get the feeling that this kid is only reading Newsweek and medical journals when the tiny one tells me they want to go to Johns Hopkins. So here is the question: Nature versus Nurture? Handel was a natural music talent but his father wanted him to be a lawyer. No nuturing there. On the other hand thousands of children every year are "Tigermommed" into becoming the worlds' next great concert pianist. But are they happy? Are they loving life? Are they able to play in the rain and make mud pies? Have they ever wanted to be a butterfly or a fireman when they grow up? I am assuming no. I realized after moments of thinking that I did not want this for my child. Joe agreed. We want Aaron to be happy and not a douche bag (seriously these are our top two requirements). If he becomes the next Neill deGrasse Tyson then we will be tickled pink. We will give him every opportunity to explore every life path imaginable. But if he chooses something less amazing that is fine too. As long as he makes his mark on this world. HIS mark. Not one that we have forced on him.