When It Comes to Kids, “Talent” Can Be Way Overrated

What? It's called BREAKDANCING. okay??!!
What? It’s called BREAKDANCING. Okay??!!

There must be a moment in the life of certain parents when they suddenly realize that their six-year-old daughter is pounding out some pretty perfect Beethoven on the piano and things will never ever be the same.

It’s probably thrilling, to say the least. Some parents probably feel the big pride in those first moments when it all clicks, when they realize that they now actually own a child prodigy.

Prolifically talented children are a sight to behold, no doubt about it.

But still.

God, they can be so painfully annoying, too, right?


Maybe I’m wrong here but I kind of like the fact that most kids pretty much suck at almost everything. There’s a beauty in that, you know? At least I think there is. Perhaps that has a lot to do with the fact that I was never a stand-out in anything I did as a little boy.

I never hit any home runs in Little League. Not one. Most of my friends had at least one dinger, but mine never came around.I loved baseball and played okay, I guess, but while a lot of my buddies were launching skyrockets over the left-center field chain-links, I was picking my nose in the corner of the dugout and reliving my last at bat, when I struck out looking at three blazing pitches that had actually appeared to each be aimed at my face but which had somehow turned back to cross the plate at the last millisecond.


I loved playing the guitar from the time I was about 11 or 12, too, but I’m not going to lie to you: I was a ham-fisted anti-Hendrix when it came to making magic happen up on the fretboard.

Midget football? Fuggedaboudit! I barely even made weight. Why? Ill tell you why. I was way too talented at housing ice cream and hoagies to try and stay light enough to play on Saturday mornings. But at the same time, I was also smart enough to know that moving up to the next weight class would have meant being in the game with a bunch of hard-hitting big kids who would have reveled in knocking me back into the Stone Age. Is that a talent then? Is knowing how to NOT get your ass pounded into the ground on the gridiron a talent? It oughta be, I say.

And in that light, I was pretty talented, I think.

My own kids are talented in ways that I can relate to and dig. They’re no violin maestros or magnificent cartoonists or ultra-skilled gymnasts; not yet anyway, but I don’t care. Heck, I wouldn’t even know how to handle some sort of super-human toddler, you know? I’d be jealous if my kid could play an instrument way better than me or shine out on the tennis court. I mean, so what if I can’t be bothered to give a crap about tennis? If either of my young kids turned out to be really good at the game at such a young age, I’d be pissed, man. And you’re darn right I’d want to be good at tennis too.

I don’t need that sort of aggravation in my life, people. I just don’t. These days I’m exhausted by just looking at my aging face in the toothpaste splattered bathroom mirror. I don’t have the time to pop around trying to get good at freaking tennis.

Listen, like any parent worth their weight in salt-n-vinegar chips, I think my kids, Violet, five, and Henry, three, are just perfectly perfect in my humble eyeballs. Seriously. Violet is a great storyteller and loves to ramble on and on to grown-ups about far-fetched tales that make no sense at all. She talks a mile a minute and gets off on spewing long, intricate fairy tales she makes up on the spot. It’s more or less like listening for hours to someone you just met in a concert parking lot, someone who has been up to something mind-altering and freaky, if you catch my drift.

But I love that kid so much because of her energy for telling stories. I just do. Her talents may be lesser than some kids her age, but to tell you the truth, I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing or an unfortunate thing at all. In fact, I think it’s pure awesome. Violet talks a blue streak like an acidic Dead Head from 1977, and face it: in some circles that’s considered talent, buddy. So deal with it.

As for Henry, also known as Hank the Tank, well, that kid might not be a tee-ball sensation or a BMX wunderkind just yet, but let me tell you something, you haven’t had you’re breath wretched away from your guts until you’ve sat and watched Henry, decked out in his Spiderman costume (worn year-round, 24/7) climb up on the coffee table and then hurl himself through the air like a potato bug in a tornado.

He lands with a flump over on the couch and then pops back up with a big smile on his face to see if you were watching.

It’s spiritually uplifting, I tell you.

I don’t care what anybody says, loosely constructed semi-dangerous Spiderman flips on to the furniture is talent in it’s rawest , most ancient form. And I like it a lot. That’s Hollywood stuntman crap, ya’ll. Good folks pay real money for those sort of thrills out in Vegas or wherever. But not me. I get it for nothing.

I get it in massive doses because I love a kid named Hank the Tank and Hank the Tank loves launching himself into the local stratosphere.

And you know what?

If that isn’t something you consider “talent,” well, you’re wrong, buckaroo. Because talent is as talent does, and every kid out there is doing something interesting. Especially when they’re all hopped up on summer evening popsicles and simply cannot be stopped from making the most ridiculous/fabulous shadow animals on the living room wall that any mom or dad has ever seen.


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Article Posted 5 years Ago

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