Prepare to be astounded:
Now, if you've had much to do with 4-year-olds, you know that most of them find it sufficiently challenging to clap at the right time in "If You're Happy and You Know It". This child is a genius. I mean that quite literally. I am not exaggerating in any way. If he becomes anything other than a musician when he grows up, I'll be astonished.
Why is he so talented? Well, it's his dad playing the bass in the background, so he comes from a musical family. It's probably in his genes. And yet, there's that full drum kit with sound-absorbing wall in behind it. Someone is sure giving him the opportunity to develop his talent.
With stuff like this - extraordinary talent, evidence of genius - we don't have too much trouble attributing it to genes. Without the support he's getting, he might never have discovered his talent, but the support doesn't create the talent. That's innate. Not many people would argue that.
But what of other traits? What of kindliness, sociability, ambition, patience, thoughfulness, extroversion, love of books, love of sports, stick-to-it-tiveness, and on and on and on? Very often as parents we attribute the development (or lack thereof) of any of these or a gazillion other traits entirely onto things we have or have not done. Is this fair? Is this reasonable?
There is a balance between innate and environment, but I feel strongly that in our culture, we place the balancing point at the wrong spot. I believe that as parents, we burden ourselves tremendously with exaggerated notions of our own potency in our childrens' lives.
Please understand: We are important. We are, for the first years of our childrens' lives, supremely important. We have the power to foster, to guide, to nurture, or to squelch, demean and discourage. What we don't have is the power to make our child other than what he/she is. Some of what our child is, is simply innate. It is who s/he is. How much is innate is up for discussion; knowing that some is innate neither gets us off the hook, parentally, nor makes our contribution worthless. But parenting is a contribution to who your child will become. It is not the beginning, middle, and end, the be-all and end-all.
Without the drum kit, this child may never have discovered his talent - but he'd still have it. Without the talent, all the drum kits, lessons, and practice in the world wouldn't turn him into this kind of a drummer. In this area of his life, his parents have helped him discover who he is; they didn't make him who he is.
I think this is true of all areas of our childrens' lives. And that, fellow parents, is a good thing.