Child entrepreneur's stolen childhood
Kids should maybe run around and roll in mud at the age of eight, not study the stock market.
We were watching an episode of Dragon’s Den last night. This particular episode showcased a bunch of young entrepreneurs, all of whom were school-going kids who had come up with a great business idea.
Watching as these teens and pre-teens lined up and showed off their business prowess left me with a weird mix of awe and concern. Here were these children, with incredible business ideas, and some of them even won a nice little investment from some leading corporate minds. One of these kids even said that he’d been playing the stock market…since he was eight years old. He was, at time of recording this episode, fourteen.
I was left a little awe-stricken because, truly, I don’t think I even knew there was a stock market at the age of eight, and I highly doubt that my nine year old cares right now. And yet, here was this kid, who’d been investing money in it since the age of eight, and he confessed to feeling a little antsy because he couldn't trade in stocks during busiest time of day at the stock market. Why? Because he was stuck at school during the busiest times of the day.
Funny part? In my opinion, this kid could easily just leave school now – to me, at the age of now fourteen, he is pretty set for life if this is the level he’s at right now. That’s probably what I would've campaigned for, if I were his parent. And yes, I know, he’s undoubtedly some next-level sort of overachiever but, really, school’s frustrating him because he can’t spend more time on his financial algorithms?
And then there’s the other side of the coin. I'm sitting here trying to mentally compute how my kid would react to this and, let me tell you right now, she wouldn't. This seems like a world far beyond her and, honestly, I'm happy about that.
The negative aspect of the fourteen-year old entrepreneur that’s chatting about stocks and trades on my television screen is that – I think - he’s had no childhood. None. I highly doubt he was left to roll around in the mud and form an intimate bond with mud pies or that he spent a little time climbing trees and making friends with the neighbour’s new puppy.
Granted, I want to commend this young man on his entrepreneurial spirit and his intellectual prowess, yes. BUT, where was his childhood in all of this? Where was his playtime and lazy time, spent investigating the Famous Five or yelping at the sky as he bounced on a jumping castle?
Looking over at my kid doing her maths homework as I type, and after this, she’s planned to go ferry out a plant she’s heard about in the garden, I can’t help but feel a sadness for that kid. A quick Google search tells me he is seventeen now, and a picture I find online shows him “suited up” and talking about how he wants to be a hedge fund manager. At seventeen, I had a sort-of idea that I maybe wanted to be a journalist, or maybe an actress but, possibly also a lawyer.
My perspectives on parenting have been pretty blown out of the water by this kid. I want to commend his parents, deeply, for supporting their son as he followed his passion from such an early age but, I also want to ask them if he ever did just play in the mud or lose a day to an Enid Blyton book.
For me, and for my kid, I think I'm going to let her explore the garden a little more and maybe take a day off from life and read a good book.
She currently believes she would like to be a writer one day, but at the age of nine, I hardly think we can be making definitive choices about her future career. Should we be?