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View Full Version : Realizing your kid has talents that you don't.



SunDeck
12-19-2007, 09:17 AM
My son has an erector set. He's a little young for the projects, but at the same time he is absolutely enthralled with it. So, we build the projects together, most of which have about twenty steps.

If you have ever worked on an erector set, you can understand how much it challenges your sense of spatial reasoning. Basically, you have pictures of the project which show you how the parts fit together. They can be quite complicated and in many cases they challenge your abilities to use your hands and tools together. I take the lead and his job is usually to help put in the screws, the pulleys, axles, etc. Occasionally, I push him to figure some of the steps out on his own.

Anyway, we were building a crane last week, which has a motor and pulleys- all sorts of stuff. At one point, right after I put a piece together and was moving on to another step, the seven year old says, "Dad, that's on wrong". I looked at the diagram for several seconds, trying to see what he was seeing and after a while I was convinced I had it right. He didn't press it and we went on.

Well, after another three or four steps, we realize that I had indeed put a particular plate on upside down. After scanning all the diagrams, I finally saw the mistake, which was wicked hard to figure out. It took a lot of squinting and head scratching to figure it out. But here is the rub- the mistake was exactly the thing my son was telling me about fifteen minutes beforehand and he had thrown out the comment so casually that it seemed trivial.

That is not the only time I have noticed this. The kid has this ability to see three dimensions in his head. He often draws city scapes from a bird's eye view, with the proper dimensions and perspectives. Me? I draw a stick man with giant hands and call it art. I don't know if I should feel proud, amazed, humbled or what, but it is definitely one of the great things about having kids. I can't wait until he wants to take the lawnmower apart.

MrCinatit
12-19-2007, 09:56 AM
Just throwing this out, but if he likes drawing city scape - especially from a bird's eye - he just might enjoy a game like SimCity 4, which would allow him to literally build a city.
I am not sure how old he is - and some parts might be a bit dry and seemingly needless for some youngsters (ie, laying down water pipes, budge control, fire and police protection and so on), but there are many user-made modifications which allow for a sandbox mode - and with some help from ol' dad, he could start building his dream cities. The game has actually been used by some city developers to plan on how to build their city and look at some traffic simulations.
And, I know from a personal standpoint, the game does not loose its edge, even as a 39-year-old.

EDIT: If he has interest in architecture, there are also some building architectural tools available for the game - some of the buildings created by users have been simply magnificent. And, I know of a few youngsters who have used the game who have either gone on, or are considering a career in architecture.

vaticanplum
12-19-2007, 10:11 AM
Hoping this doesn't sound too weird, but I like your kid :) Is he getting more buildy-buildy stuff for Christmas?

One of my favorite things about kids is when they make a joke for the first time. I dunno, it strikes me as kind of advanced individual thinking: to see the humor in something all on your own and put that into words for other people to enjoy. It's a real sign that they're not just copying or even just understanding and so is usually one of the first signs to me that they're actual people. This is why I don't have children; that freaks me out entirely. Here's something that one day needs you to account for all aspects of life and the next is a person making a joke. That is bananas.

Falls City Beer
12-19-2007, 10:21 AM
My daughters have had better grooming habits since age four than I currently have. I wish I were joking.

I taught a whole complement of classes the other day with a massive hole in the elbow of my sweater. Didn't even notice till I got home and my 6 year old pointed it out.

Joseph
12-19-2007, 11:01 AM
Let me just say from my own personal experience, thats a very marketable skill to have. To be able to understand scope and spacial factors of things when only seeing them from one angle....could have yourself a little architect in the making.

Unassisted
12-19-2007, 11:41 AM
My oldest son has artistic talent that is way beyond what his mother and I possess. She and I both have design skills and ability, but we don't have anywhere near the talent to do the freehand drawing and painting that he can do.

SunDeck
12-19-2007, 12:00 PM
My daughters have had better grooming habits since age four than I currently have. I wish I were joking.

I taught a whole complement of classes the other day with a massive hole in the elbow of my sweater. Didn't even notice till I got home and my 6 year old pointed it out.

That's just sad; you have to set the bar a little higher. Then again, you are playing nicely into the absent minded professor thing.


Hoping this doesn't sound too weird, but I like your kid Is he getting more buildy-buildy stuff for Christmas?

Totally- he likes art and building supplies.


To be able to understand scope and spacial factors of things when only seeing them from one angle....could have yourself a little architect in the making.

Or maybe an adult son who will live in my basement and make giant, 10,000 piece erector set cities.

Joseph
12-19-2007, 12:03 PM
Or maybe an adult son who will live in my basement and make giant, 10,000 piece erector set cities.

You been talking to my mom again? ;)

SunDeck
12-19-2007, 12:04 PM
Yes, she wants me to remind you to clip your fingernails.:eek:

Ravenlord
12-19-2007, 12:04 PM
i have an ability to write that neither one of my parents, or grand parents has.

my brother can put together any small scale project without error despite not having looked at the instuctions. he's even taught himself leatherworking with nothing more than a picture of a finished project to base it off of...the armor he made me is testament to that.

SunDeck
12-19-2007, 12:06 PM
Or maybe an adult son who will live in my basement and make giant, 10,000 piece erector set cities.

On second thought:

http://arapaho.nsuok.edu/~vassar/Images/eifel%20tower.jpg

Ravenlord
12-19-2007, 12:14 PM
nm

George Anderson
12-19-2007, 12:37 PM
Part of the joys of having an adopted child is having a child with different genetical gifts than my wife and I have. Since she was an abandoned orphan in Russia we have little knowledge of what talents her genetic parents may possess so the talents she has are a challenge to find but also a nice suprise when we find them.

In fact she does very well in gymnastics. She can walk on a balance beam better than my wife and I can walk on the ground.

Rojo
12-19-2007, 12:58 PM
Part of the joys of having an adopted child is having a child with different genetical gifts than my wife and I have. Since she was an abandoned orphan in Russia we have little knowledge of what talents her genetic parents may possess so the talents she has are a challenge to find but also a nice suprise when we find them.

I'm starting to come around to the idea that genetics is oversold. My son just scored well on his SAT and, as much as I want to thumb my suspenders and say "chip of the old block" it's his achievement, not mine.

Falls City Beer
12-19-2007, 01:07 PM
I'm starting to come around to the idea that genetics is oversold. My son just scored well on his SAT and, as much as I want to thumb my suspenders and say "chip of the old block" it's his achievement, not mine.

Well, except for the fact that basically all my family has died of the same disease, despite our best efforts to forestall it--that sort of cinches it for me. Pretty good argument that we're essentially an amalgam and extension of our parents' DNA. Heck, I wish I believed in nurture more than I do. My job and my volunteer work rely on the belief that we can change the behaviors of humans; I wish it were more true than it is--that string of acids is a doozy.

SunDeck
12-19-2007, 02:05 PM
I'm starting to come around to the idea that genetics is oversold. My son just scored well on his SAT and, as much as I want to thumb my suspenders and say "chip of the old block" it's his achievement, not mine.

Well, he does only have half of your genes.

paintmered
12-19-2007, 02:09 PM
Start your kid on calculus, now. They're never too young to start. ;)

Rojo
12-19-2007, 02:10 PM
Well, except for the fact that basically all my family has died of the same disease, despite our best efforts to forestall it--that sort of cinches it for me. Pretty good argument that we're essentially an amalgam and extension of our parents' DNA. Heck, I wish I believed in nurture more than I do. My job and my volunteer work rely on the belief that we can change the behaviors of humans; I wish it were more true than it is--that string of acids is a doozy.

It cinches it for you? Red-headed parents have red-headed babies, nobody doubts that. But things like character and intelligence are so slippery that genetics just doesn't lead us very far.

redsmetz
12-19-2007, 02:42 PM
My oldest son has artistic talent that is way beyond what his mother and I possess. She and I both have design skills and ability, but we don't have anywhere near the talent to do the freehand drawing and painting that he can do.

That's my daughter. While I was an "art major" in high school, I never pursued it further. She majored in art in college and has one some professional illustrations, which I think I've shared here before. http://thefinestmuffins.blogspot.com/ is her sketch site and that links to her professional site too.

dabvu2498
12-19-2007, 02:43 PM
My son has the ability to tell my wife what to do. I have no such attribute.

Falls City Beer
12-19-2007, 02:46 PM
It cinches it for you? Red-headed parents have red-headed babies, nobody doubts that. But things like character and intelligence are so slippery that genetics just doesn't lead us very far.

Well, not entirely cinches maybe. Intelligence I'm less convinced is purely genetic, but things like tendencies toward violence, mental illness, alcoholism...man, it's tough to extricate those things from genetics. And unfortunately, what we call "character," for the most part, is avoiding the above things.

I'll say this, though: after so much study, I've come to this conclusion: artists come from nowhere/anywhere--so often artists emerge from families who didn't encourage artistry, while children of highly artistic parents frequently head for business school. Of course, wealthier artists' (writers, visual, musical) works often stick around longer than the works of the less wealthy, but as far as I can tell, artistic genius can come from anywhere or nowhere. It's almost untraceable in so many cases.

vaticanplum
12-19-2007, 04:08 PM
Well, not entirely cinches maybe. Intelligence I'm less convinced is purely genetic, but things like tendencies toward violence, mental illness, alcoholism...man, it's tough to extricate those things from genetics. And unfortunately, what we call "character," for the most part, is avoiding the above things.

I'll say this, though: after so much study, I've come to this conclusion: artists come from nowhere/anywhere--so often artists emerge from families who didn't encourage artistry, while children of highly artistic parents frequently head for business school. Of course, wealthier artists' (writers, visual, musical) works often stick around longer than the works of the less wealthy, but as far as I can tell, artistic genius can come from anywhere or nowhere. It's almost untraceable in so many cases.

From a genetic standpoint, I agree with you. Socially, I don't know. I think there are probably countless artistic talents that never come to light because they don't grow up in a world where they're exposed to their own gifts or given a chance to nurture them.

In other words, I think sometimes an artistic talent comes out of nowhere, but more often than not it comes out of a fair amount of circumstance. Maybe not always parents per se, but the world in which someone is raised. There was probably another da Vinci running around a couple of centuries before da Vinci but had no feasible way of becoming literate. There is probably a female out there who has the talent to revolutionize hip hop, but she happened to have been born in Afghanistan.

For the record, I actually can think offhand of a lot of people who have similar talents to their parents. It's impossible for me to say whether that's genetics or environment, though. That's why I think neurology is so fascinating.

Roy Tucker
12-19-2007, 04:17 PM
I think we have about every building toy ever made. Duplos, Legos, Kinex, Erector Set, Lincoln Logs, your basic wood blocks, etc etc.

My son used to build all kinds of things. It used to frustrate me because we'd buy some $100 big Lego thing for Christmas and Zach would have it built in 2 hours. And he did all the Sims and Roller Coaster Tycoon PC things too.

He's in architecture technology now. Whether he'll succeed or not is still up in the air, but that's the direction he took.

Rojo
12-19-2007, 04:20 PM
Well, not entirely cinches maybe. Intelligence I'm less convinced is purely genetic, but things like tendencies toward violence, mental illness, alcoholism...man, it's tough to extricate those things from genetics. And unfortunately, what we call "character," for the most part, is avoiding the above things.


Yikes, I don't want to go here.

Falls City Beer
12-19-2007, 05:55 PM
Yikes, I don't want to go here.

Really, people don't conflate "character" and behavior? I don't necessarily agree with it--and I don't believe that people can't change, but what I am saying is that the best science now says there's a bunch more to genetic inheritance than we really could have imagined, say, 30 years ago.

Now your take may be a contrarian position to this recent tide of research, I don't know. I guess I just don't take much of a transcendental view of things like "character." I just sort of stick with "behavior." I also view intelligence more or less as a series performances and means rather than a static characteristic or aptitude.

Further, in addition to mostly buying into the role genetics plays in our behavior, I'm a big believer in randomness, and as vaticanplum pointed out, being at the right place at the right time. DaVinci succeeded and was patronized by the Medici--two centuries earlier, he's locked away in a donjon.

I guess what I don't buy into too much is the notion that folks change--really change their behavior--by pulling on their bootstraps or possessing the will or pluck to do it.

Roy Tucker
12-19-2007, 07:12 PM
Just observing my 3 kids, I continue to be amazed that you can have the same parents and turn out such different children.

That recombinant DNA sure is wacky stuff.

Rojo
12-19-2007, 07:49 PM
Really, people don't conflate "character" and behavior? I don't necessarily agree with it--and I don't believe that people can't change, but what I am saying is that the best science now says there's a bunch more to genetic inheritance than we really could have imagined, say, 30 years ago.

Now your take may be a contrarian position to this recent tide of research, I don't know. I guess I just don't take much of a transcendental view of things like "character." I just sort of stick with "behavior." I also view intelligence more or less as a series performances and means rather than a static characteristic or aptitude.

Further, in addition to mostly buying into the role genetics plays in our behavior, I'm a big believer in randomness, and as vaticanplum pointed out, being at the right place at the right time. DaVinci succeeded and was patronized by the Medici--two centuries earlier, he's locked away in a donjon.

I guess what I don't buy into too much is the notion that folks change--really change their behavior--by pulling on their bootstraps or possessing the will or pluck to do it.

It just seems to me the "its in their genes" argument consigns certain people (and certain groups of people) to poverty and pathology.

Falls City Beer
12-19-2007, 07:55 PM
It just seems to me the "its in their genes" argument consigns certain people (and certain groups of people) to poverty and pathology.

Yeah, that's not the direction I was going with it.

It's not hard determinism. And the door of genetics swings both ways--I see alcoholism as an illness, the disposition toward which is more than likely inherited--not some "moral failing."

Incidentally, what a lot of genetic research is beginning to uncover is that there is essentially no such thing as race and ethnicity. So that kind of takes apart a good deal of the eugenics discussion.

Rojo
12-19-2007, 08:04 PM
I see alcoholism as an illness, the disposition toward which is more than likely inherited

From whichever parent is Irish. :)