I am often given links showing child prodigies on Facebook. If you know me, you know that these little movies usually scare me more than impress me. More than anything I want to protect these kids.
I recently saw a video of a seven-year-old girl playing a balalaika that really grabbed a hold of me. On the bottom of the page is a link to the movie and then a few of the 8000 comments out of the 4 million views. My comment was the only one I saw that expressed a desire to protect her. But then again I have some experience with the commodification of youth in the Music Industrial Complex.
Many comments say she is gifted. Who is this gift really for? I would like to be with that seven-year-old girl as she unwraps her gift. Does the gift come with strings attached? How much does she need to practice in order to keep the gift? How much of her childhood was invested in perfecting this gift?
I want to see the look on her face as she unties the bow. I want to be with her as she runs upstairs and sets it on her night table. Or maybe she’ll want me to place it on the highest shelf so that it can watch over her while she dreams of the day when she will be able to reach it.
Or maybe she will want me to help her find the perfect hiding place where her mom and dad will never find it.
This gift will forever unfold through the years. There will be times when she’ll mistake it for a curse. I want her to have my number when she will want to trade it in for something that she knows is for her and her only. But most gifts aren’t returnable after one year, let alone ten or twenty or thirty.
I want to be her facebook friend when she can’t remember what the gift was. I want to watch on the sidelines as she compares her gift to her friends’ gifts. Will she be like OMG all over her friends’ gifts? Will she be OK with some of her friends not being able to see her gift at all? I want to be the kind of friend that her best friend would come running to crying, “How come I didn’t get a gift?”
I want to hold her friend’s hand as we go looking for the lost gift until we realize that some gifts are invisible and that maybe the balalaika player can share her's until it becomes visible.
What percentage of children are gifted? How many are not gifted? Maybe some gifts are only visible to the child. What about the children whose parents can’t see their gifts?
This little girl is adored on facebook. Is she adored at home for being exactly the little child that she is at any given moment?
Some people are gifted with lots of money. What if everyone was gifted with a billion dollars? What if everyone was gifted a skill to such an extent that when every adult witnessed it, they went OMG!? I believe that every child is indeed gifted with unbelievable talents, worthy of multiple OH MY GODs.
And of course, we are all musically gifted.
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Please leave your comments. I’m curios to see if this resonates with anyone. And if doesn’t I’d love to hear from you as well.