Is This Great, Or is it Creepy?

Okay, I’ve been watching this video of this five-year-old kid, and I just can’t decide: is it amazing, or is it creepy?

(I’ll take a polite break while you watch.)

On one hand, the kid is totally amazing. So much control, discipline, balance, and ferocious focus. So much raw effort, so many hours spent practicing. If this kid were playing music or writing poetry, we wouldn’t find it creepy at all. Is he really any different from a young Mozart, or a Williams sister?

On the other hand, it is sort of creepy to see this level of expertise in a kid this young, isn’t it? It seems out of balance with our ideas about childhood. Is it mentally or physically healthy to be on a regimen like this? Who is really driving the bus here, the kid or the whispering parent? Is this a train wreck in the making — another overtrained prodigy destined for burnout and sadness?

This kid embodies the thorny question we all deal with. How much effort do we put into building narrow expertise, and how much into the broader social muscles? In other words, how much should we specialize to build the skills that make us unique, and how much should we spend time developing the muscles we need to make and maintain relationships, control emotions, and learn to communicate with others?

What do you think?

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