The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Death on the roads - a child's view

With the advent of the car, has come an unwelcome "side effect" - death on the roads. The car is one of the major killers of people in the world today. It is the no.1 cause of death among young people in many places of the world. Singapore, is no exception to this, it seems.

Fintan just turned four years old - and though that is a short time to walk this Earth, he has already seen more than enough road accidents to be aware of the phenomenon in a very direct way.

The other day, as I took him to the cinema, he told me something of his day.

He began, out of nowhere, his thought becoming his words without introduction: clearly this had been bothering him.

"The car didn't see the motorbike..." he began, very quietly for Fintan, and very seriously. "The car hit the motorbike." It was evident that he was seeing the scene again in his mind - and his face held none of his usual happiness. "His eyes pop out.", he told me, quietly, "His teeth pop out."

"Did he die?" I asked, just as quietly, understanding that this was a real event he was describing.

"Yes." he said, "because...", then his hand reached for his eyes, and showed them popping out. That, he reckoned, would be the cause of death of anyone.

He didn't say anything more about it - although he repeated the account to his mother, later. He had to talk about it. There was no doubt he understood the situation - both its cause and its result - but, in a way, I am saddened that one so young, should be so aware of death, having seen it with his own eyes. It is not the first traffic accident he has witnessed. The other involved the death of a policeman - but thankfully we were further from that one, than he was from this one and so he didn't get to see much detail - other than the policeman ceasing to move, after being struck.

I have seen many accidents in Singapore. I have even been in one - a mild one. I don't know how frequent accidents are, here, compared to other countries - but they seem rather common. On my road, alone, on which my home stands, I have witnessed a couple of fatal accidents, myself (including one different from the one Fintan saw, there) - and many other less serious ones. I even know where the accidents tend to occur, having a large enough sample to point to the danger spots. It does not make a father relaxed on the issue of road safety. Wherever there are cars, there will be accidents - many of them fatal - and sometimes that will include children. So, I am very careful with regards to the roads.

Early childhood is the only time in which most of us are not really aware of mortality. It seems a pity that this momentary illusion has already been shattered for Fintan, by repeated, direct, personal acquaintance with the sudden, violent (I consider a car accident violent) death of others. A childhood should be a sheltered time: but how to make it so, in the modern world?

That is a difficult question to which, perhaps, only a rural existence could be the answer. That is not presently an option, however - though maybe one day, we will live in such an environment. Meanwhile, watch your kids on those roads.

Take care.

(If you would like to read more of Fintan, four years and no months, or his gifted brothers, including Ainan Celeste Cawley, seven years and seven months, or Tiarnan, seventeen months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted children and gifted adults in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 6:21 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm sorry Fintan had to witness that! How awful. I think I would be upset by it, and I'm an adult...

My own son was very upset when a car crashed through the fence of the playground at his preschool. Fortunately, no one was hurt. But he learned that a fence is not really going to protect him.

8:38 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, I am rather sorry he saw it too. Especially considering that he has demonstrated a very retentive memory: those images will be with him for a long time (a lifetime?). Not pleasant.

I am glad no-one at your son's school was injured.

Best wishes

1:18 PM  

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