Pint-Sized Phenoms: From Playtime to Professional Work

Perhaps it's time to start Carston's art career. In fact, I may be too late if I want him to compete with five-year-old "prodigy" Aelita Andre. Aelita started painting at 22 months. Her "Abstract Expressoinist" work sells for upwards of $10,000. But if you watch this video of her working (and it is clear based on her statements about watching the sun rise and painting for 24 hours that there is some work going on here) you'd be excused if you thought she was simply playing around in her tutu.

In some ways this might be every toddler and small child's dream: get as dirty as you want, take over a whole room of the house, and fling liquid and glitter about. She looks like she's having fun. If there is any phenom in this family it's clearly Aelita's parents who have some savvy marketing and sales skills.

Given the focus on early achievement and profits it's hard to imagine that Aelita would ever act as selflessly as Meghan Vogel. Vogel, a high school junior in Ohio, made headlines for helping a fellow competitor cross the finish line-- in front of her-- at the state track meet.

Just when you think youth sports have become too professionalized and focused on winning at all costs, a story like this comes along to remind you that they also are a site of life lessons and uplifting stories.

When genuine prodigies come along, like golfer Andy Zhang who made the cut to play in last week's U.S. Open at just 14, it's not as hard to celebrate them. Especially when their parents don't seem overly pushy; Zhang's father actually told him he shouldn't expect to make the cut and so shouldn't fly from Florida to California (note that in the linked New York Times article, the father of another pint-sized phenom, Lexi Thompson, is quoted). Zhang, who spent much of his childhood in China, now lives and trains in Bradenton (presumably at IMG Academies, which I've also written about before).  Seems like we'll be hearing much more from him in the future.

His talents are clearly immense enough to make him a professional at an early age (though not as early as Aelita Andre's).  We can only hope his love for playing the game helps give him an attitude as wonderful as Vogel's.