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, August 21, 2007

The self-perception of a toddler

Tiarnan is a toddler - he is but eighteen months old. I wonder, at times, how he sees himself and the rest of the world. Sometimes, something he does or some attitude he takes reveals a lot of what must be going in him. The other day was a case in point.

Tiarnan led me into the computer room, where his brother, Ainan, was at work and pointed at the screen. "Baby!", he said. Ainan knew what he meant. "He wants to see babies.", he said, indulgently and started to type at the keyboard.

As images of babies appeared on the screen, Tiarnan at once started jumping up and down: "Babies!" he said, most pleased to see them. We let him see images of "babies" - some were indeed, babies, others were toddlers like himself. He was delighted at this.

I thought this was both sweet and sad for what it said about how he felt. Tiarnan is not going to nursery, at this moment. Perhaps, in leading me to the computer, which he knew was capable of calling up any and all information, he was expressing a need for the company of others of his own age. He has two older brothers - four years and seven - but, to an eighteen month old, that is quite a gap.

Another interpretation is evident, however, which may, in fact, be the dominant one. Tiarnan simply likes babies: he thinks they are cute. Whenever he meets a baby when we are out, he smiles, goes up to it and interacts with it, much as a mother does to her baby: with an overwhelming feeling of adoration. I think he thinks of babies as very young and cute - not realizing that most of the world thinks of him in just the same way. He too is a "baby" to our eyes - but not to his own.

I feel that Tiarnan thinks of himself as distinct from babies - as more mature and developed - and therefore that babies are the province of cuteness and careful interaction (for he is always careful with them) that takes note of their fragility.

It is funny to watch him with babies - for he is very much like an adoring adult - but actually a toddler, who is seemingly unaware of his own toddler status. It is very sweet.

(If you would like to read more of Tiarnan, eighteen months, or his gifted brothers, Ainan Celeste Cawley, seven years and eight months, or Fintan, four years and one month, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, genetics, left-handedness, College, University, Chemistry, Science, 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 @ 8:25 PM 


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