I just Google “is my child…” and “is my child talented and gifted” came fairly high up the list. I’ve got to be honest with you. Although we know that our son is pretty smart – his recent parent/teacher meeting backed this up – I know that he is far from talented and/or gifted.
Look, I’m not putting down my own son. To the contrary. I know that he has many talents; just not the ones I “wanted” or expected him to have. When he turned four last year (almost exactly a year ago) we bought him a drum-kit. He has been a huge fan of The Wiggles since he was able to wiggle himself. Before he became a ninja, he pretty much lived and breathed being a Wiggle.
But now that he is a ninja he posses the ability to recite EVERY single episode of the Ninjago television series (we have it on DVD). That’s 28 episodes. That’s almost 10 hours and 16 minutes worth of dialogue. That is impressive. He doesn’t say the lines a split second after the characters, he says them slightly before or on in synch with them. Basically, you could turn down the sound and he’ll do the dialogue and even the sound effects in time (“ching, ching” is the sound of the swords coming together).
Yesterday my wife filled out the enrolment form as he is starting kindergarten next year. (Note; kindergarten in New South Wales is the first compulsory year of schooling). On the form it asked about the child’s interests. She added things like; watching Ninjago, playing Ninjago, reciting Ninjago lines, reading about Ninjago, talking about Ninjago; the list could go on. Some might think it is obsessive. I don’t think so. I think it’s dedication. What he is showing is, here is someone who has a field of expertise.
In my adult life and further, in my professional capacities, I have conversed with many people who are dedicated to a single cause, a single hobby, or a field of expertise in which their knowledge could be considered second-to-none. But, that seems all that they know. You can’t get much more out of them. I come from a different concept, being the jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none in both my professional and extra-curricular activities, and maybe one day he’ll take on that trait.
But for now, I am happy that he is into something so passionately. And I am stoking the fire of his passion by sourcing the discontinued and hard to find sets online and getting them for him – when the price is right – to encourage him to be into something. This might sound like I am spoiling him, and to some extent yes – and to another extent, there’s another reason why I am buying all this for him, but that’s for another story – but what I am hoping this does is give him some sort of tunnel-vision (the good type) that rewards him for his concentration and focus.
I didn’t start playing the guitar until I was 13 even though I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t interested in playing an instrument. From sitting in my parent’s lounge room using a leather foot rest as the bass drum, a Tupperware container full of rice as the snare, and two more Tupperware containers filled with plain and self raising flour as the toms, and my wooden spoon drumsticks in hand, I came a long way from that scene of pretend instruments to a house full of real ones. But I am not talented or gifted; far from it. I didn’t focus on just one thing. I wanted to do so many things.
The kids I knew who were the greatest football players were over in the park every single day playing football. Nothing else. The kids that I knew who were the great athletes who stole the show on our school sports day only practised running, high jump and long jump, and that’s it. And the kids who excelled at music, the ones that could play those guitar solos note-for-note were practising the guitar each and every day. Sure these kids went outside and played a few games of football now and then, or rode their bikes with the other kids in the neighbourhood, but not with finesse. Not with any flair. That wasn’t their thing. They knew what their thing was and that was their focus.
So we come January 2014 we have seven years of infants through to primary school, and maybe, once he hits high school he’ll be ready to pick up the guitar like I did. I know when the time is right that he’ll grow out of ninjas and pirates and dinosaurs, and he’ll turn his focus to sports or athletic activities, music and/or dancing, or something that he will again put 100% focus into. One day he might pick up those drumsticks and rock the house down. One day he might just turn his Spinjitzu spin (that’s something the Ninjago ninjas do) into a Pirouette or Fouette Turn and dance his butt off.
Then we might find out if he truly is talented or gifted. Until then, we won’t push. We will just encourage.