Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hunting for a Record

Imagine that my 7-year old daughter, JJ, is gifted in walking the tightrope. It's not something that I trained her to do, but she's just born with that natural talent. In fact, she's so damn good on the tightrope that she can practically dance on it blindfolded!

Now of course in a country like Malaysia, where almost everyone is pursuing all sorts of stunts to earn a space in the Book of Records, it would be a nice opportunity to encourage JJ to do something stunning with her ability on the tightrope. This is especially so if JJ herself is the one who initiates the feat.

Imagine that JJ comes up to me one day and says that she wants to perform a tightrope act between the 11th floor of Wisma Jubilee and Wisma Great Eastern Life across the Gaya Street, and without any safety net at the bottom! I think that would be quite an achievement if she can pull it off—I mean really a great achievement to be proud of, as opposed to those other so-called achievements like writing the longest poetry or collecting the largest number of soft drinks cans (yes, folks, Malaysians are very funny people!)

But the trouble with the feat that JJ is proposing is that there is no room for mistakes. For one small mistake would mean she'd probably fall to her death. However, bear in mind that my JJ is extremely good with her balance—so much so that it is highly unlikely that she'd fall.

What do you think; should I allow JJ do the tightrope stunt? Although she's just 7 years old, she really knows what she's doing. She's an extraordinary kid, I tell you!

No? OK, how about if she's a little older; say if she's 12 years old? By that age, she would've had many more years of practice to perfect her balance skills on the rope. As a parent, should I allow her to perform her act? Of course if she makes a mistake she would still fall to her death at that age.

Now let's add a few more years; say if she's 16 years old. By then she'd have many more years of training on the tightrope, she can probably sleep on the rope. Should I have faith in her ability? One can say that there is a 99% chance of her pulling it off. But unfortunately, there is still that 1% chance of failing. Meaning that there's a 1% chance of her losing her life attempting the record.

The truth of the matter is that even a seemingly gifted child can make mistakes. In fact, he or she can keep repeating those mistakes one after another. Take this girl for example. She's supposed to be gifted, a prodigy, in her game. Yet, since turning pro a few years ago, she's been making the headlines mainly because of her blunders, not so much because of her brilliancy in the game! We are after all just human—we are not immune from making mistakes. However, the kind of mistakes she makes will not likely cause her death. So I guess her parents would keep allowing her to do her thing.

I think I would allow my child to try new things or learn new skills. I would encourage her to make the best of her potentials, but only for as long as she's within reasonable safety while pursuing her dreams. I would not allow her to perform the tightrope act described above—not in a million years, no matter how much training she's had! Well, I suppose once she's an adult, I can no longer control her life, but not for as long as she's still a minor, that's for sure! I think it's just not worth it to bet her life for the pathetic record.

That is why I think this girl would be very disappointed if she had a father like me.

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