By Ellen Sturm Niz
March 27, 2015

Ever wondered what skills a preschool-age Katniss Everdeen might display in a Hunger Games prequel? Just check out tiny Dolly Shivani Cherukuri, an almost-three-year-old girl in India who is crushing archery records. She recently scored almost double the previous record by shooting 52 arrows at targets 15 and 21 feet away. Though I'm sure Katniss was a bada$$ as a little girl, I might have to bet on Dolly's chances of success as a mini Tribute in the arena. This kid means business.

Coincidentally, just earlier this week I took my daughter to the toy store to spend some of her Christmas money on a bow and arrow set—the foam kind, because she's only eight and I'm worried enough already about a pencil poking her eye out. Meanwhile, little Dolly has an itty-bitty specially made bow and arrow, which looks like it has quite a pointy tip. We took my daughter's foam version to the park where she and a friend launched arrows for about 20 minutes before they were ready to move on to the swings. Dolly practices for two to three hours a day. Sure, sure, her dad runs his own archery school, but my husband and I both work in publishing and our third-grader hasn't written any Pulitzer Prize-winning books yet.

How on earth do parents get kids to do these things? I can barely get my daughter to practice piano for 10 minutes a day, and even doing homework is a painful experience that usually makes me wish they hadn't outlawed Mommy's Little Helper. I guess some kids are more driven, or some parents push harder, but that's just not me and my family. Sometimes I worry that I'm not pushing my daughter enough—maybe she could be a child star if I weren't so lacksidasical. Or maybe she'll be at a disadvantage later in life because I didn't insist on ballet lessons when she said she wasn't interested. But forcing kids to do things that aren't really necessary to be an everyday, well-adjusted adult, well, it's hard for me to justify. I've gotta pick my battles, and getting her into the Guinness Book of World Records isn't one of them.

Power to Dolly, though. What she has accomplished before the age of three is super impressive. It's a lesson to all of us, kids and adults, about what is possible if you try hard enough. And have a dad who runs an archery school.

Ellen Sturm Niz is a New York City-based editor and writer who has thought about taking archery lessons but, unsurprisingly, hasn't actually followed through with it yet. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.


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