FACT: Mozart composed his first music by the age of 5.
Sometimes, though, you can easily be fooled.
For instance, we took my son, at 6 months old, to the Princeton Art Museum. He stared intently at the artwork. As a result, we were convinced he would become the next Renoir, or Pollock, or whoever. Alas, today, nearing age 4, my boy's "art," as it is, recalls that of late-period old person with shaky hand.
To be clear, then: Outside of the rare Mozart, all us parents are completely fooling ourselves when we start taking random bits of personality from our children and extrapolating it to their future selves.
First-time parents do this; but by the time the second kid comes along, illusions have been checked at the door. As a result, us two-time and more parents chuckle/seethe at the first-time parents as they coo and get all showy with their offspring. (Actually, that should be a word: "chuckleseethe." I'm sure the Germans have something for it. Anyway ...) Anyway, I witnessed this firsthand a few weeks back. We were at one of those indoor kiddie gym things, a place Satan himself is surely using as a blueprint for a redesigned Hell, and there was a kid, maybe 2, playing with big, soft blocks, and the mother, speaking to her friend, said -- with the utmost seriousness -- that it was clear her boy was going to be an architect.
I chuckleseethed, as my 2-year-old daughter was mostly standing up and then falling down. And then it hit me. If the block-playing kid was going to be an architect, then clearly - clearly! - my kid was priming herself for a career as a stunt double. A not very good stunt double, but a stunt double nonetheless.
It could go on from here. Put your extrapolation helmets on.
For instance, both my kids watch TV like no one's business. They are clearly -- clearly! -- destined to be writer/directors.
And if your kid...
... likes throwing an entire roll of toilet paper, 14 Matchbox cars and the family cat in the toilet, well, he's clearly going to be a plumber.
... is a fast talker from the word go? Lawyer.
... slow to gain her verbal abilities? The greatest mime the world has ever known.
... takes the cell phone charger you insist on keeping plugged in, even when a phone is not charging, and putting it directly on his tongue to give himself repeated electric shocks? An electrician, obviously.
... burns ants with a magnifying glass? A serial killer. Seek help.
... keeps putting their hand into their dirty diaper when you change them? A sewage authority employee.
... sticks food up his nose so deep emergency room visits are needed? Well, he's going to be unemployable. Sorry.
Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is clear enough: Just shut up about your kids lives, 30 years in the future. They're going to grow up and become whoever they're going to be, no matter what you think they're going to do based on an 18-month-old fingerpainting exercise.
FACT: Albert Einstein's parents thought he was an idiot when he was a little kid. Obviously, he wasn't. The guy went on to discover America and everything. It just proves there's no way of knowing.
Having said that, I'm still holding out hope shaky-hand drawings of circles that are shaped like jagged pieces of glass overlaid on piles of chopsticks will sell for $5 million one day.
That's my boy!
Jeff Edelstein can be reached at facebook.com/jeffreyedelstein and twitter.com/jeffedelstein.