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 +

Monday, July 23, 2007

Tiarnan and the natural world.

Tiarnan is seventeen months old. For him, many things are new - and it is in watching him witness them for the first time, that I, in turn, come to a new appreciation of all that is around me. That is part of the joy of being a father.

Today, we took Tiarnan for a walk in a green area nearby. Many of my readers are from America and will not, perhaps, be familiar with the kind of things one can find here, so I will explain, in due course.

We showed him a plant with a special property, today and encouraged him to touch it. Once he did so, the leaves of this dark, low-lying plant folded up at once and hid away, retracting away from his finger. He was quite taken by this, since it is the first plant he has ever seen which MOVES, when touched.

He did it again and again, touching plant after plant and watched them duly hide away.

We indicated that we were to go - and Tiarnan then acknowledged the plants' strange new status by waving goodbye to them. The little green ones had impressed him in a way that no other plant ever had - and so he accorded them personhood. After all: if a plant can MOVE - it must be alive, in an animal-like way - I assume, he thought.

It was very sweet to watch him react this way to the plant. In all his seventeen months, he had never seen a plant react to touch by moving away - and now one had. It was beautiful to see the surprise dance in his eyes. More beautiful still was it to see him wave goodbye to them, as if to a new found friend.

The plant is the Mimosa, found in Singapore, which is low lying and has dark, delicate leaves that behave in a peculiar way. When the plant is touched, the leaves retract, at once, and fold themselves up, in hiding.

There were other things, too, that impressed Tiarnan - but it was the Mimosa, I suspect, which he will always remember.

(If you would like to read more of Tiarnan, seventeen months, or his gifted brothers, Ainan Celeste Cawley, seven years and seven months, or Fintan, four years and no 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 adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:08 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I'll just continue to send my responses as annonymous bc I always am concerned I'm hogging or clogging the msg. boards to you. I caught up on some posts and this was my favorite. Probably bc my son is close in age so I can see the entire thing so clearly. Sometime I'll have to send a photo of him--he looks a bit like your kids do...the wavy hair (I don't cut it either) and big eyes. He's half Mexican (from the father) but many think he's part Asian. Anyway, how sweet. And I didn't know that about mimosas! The first thing that came to my mind was Venus fly-trap. I don't think my son has ever waved goodbye to plants, but he is fascinated with them as well. And nature. He was really into fly's, and was excited they would come so close and even perch upon his finger, but I think he looks for my reaction and I wasn't cooing, "ooooh! look at that flllyy honeeey!"

1:28 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

It is funny how open young children are to experiences - such as your son and the fly. Later we learn to be less open however - which, in a way, is a pity.

There are a lot of interesting things in the natural world, if you know where to look.

A venus fly trap would be good to have a look at too...though it is rather threatening, unlike a mimosa.

Best wishes on raising your son!

1:50 PM  

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