“It’s a startling fact that when Mozart was my age, he’d been dead for two years.” — Tom Lehrer

The temptation to celebrate youth and prodigy is an old one.  And a dangerous one for parents.  So if you’re a parent, please don't tell your children about the following accomplishments by American kids.   And don’t feel bad about yourself, either.  You’re doing the best you can.

At the age of. . .



— Shirley Temple won an honorary Oscar

— Yo-Yo Ma was playing Bach on the cello


— Billiards champ Willie Hoppe, standing on a box, was shooting pool

— I dreamed of being an astronaut and wrote a book on SPACE (four pages, self-published)


— Drew Barrymore appeared in “Altered States.”


— Jackie Coogan co-starred with Charlie Chaplin in “The Kid,” becoming the world’s youngest millionaire. 


— John Updike wrote his first short story

— Hank Williams got a guitar and began writing songs


— other than Mozart, no one did much at this age

— Forget astronauts.  I’m going to play centerfield for the Dodgers



— Tatum O’Neal won an Oscar for “Paper Moon”


— Stevie Wonder signed a contract with Motown Records


— Herbie Hancock played piano with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

— Vicki van Meter flew a Cessna from Maine to San Diego, becoming the youngest coast-to-coast pilot

— I set my sites on the NBA


— Ray Bradbury began writing four hours a day


— Tanya Tucker recorded “Delta Dawn”

— My hoop dreams dashed, I devoted myself to becoming “Master of Space and Time” (stay tuned)


— as we all know, it’s all downhill after this.


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