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 +

Friday, August 31, 2007

Tiarnan and the beetle

Yesterday, Tiarnan, nineteen months, found a new play friend: a beetle.

Unlike most children, Tiarnan shows no fear of all that crawls on six or eight legs (or more for that matter). Indeed, he treats them with both intense curiosity and great friendliness.

Yesterday, he found a very strange looking beetle in our house. It was quite long - about two centimetres - and was black with orange spots on its back. It was like a giant distant relative of a ladybird, but showed no evidence of being able to fly. I had never seen its like before. Tiarnan peered at it, once he found it, then stepped closer until he was right above - then he reached down and picked it up in his hands. That was something I, for one, would not have done. Yet, he held it between his thumb and forefingers watching it wriggle. He was quite absorbed in this.

He set it down and watched it crawl away - but he never let it get far, he would just pick it up again and bring it back.

At one point it crawled over the edge of a wall and fell over - and Tiarnan had half a mind to jump over the wall to follow it. Instead, he walked around and bent down to get it. I had, in the meantime, picked it up on some paper and put it back on top of the wall - to Tiarnan's irritation.

This play with the mysterious beetle of unknown name went on for some time. Yet, after a while, Tiarnan seemed to want the beetle to stand still and not crawl away the whole time, finally, perhaps in frustration, he picked it up with a little too much strength in his little hand and crushed it. Though it didn't crawl away again, I don't think this outcome satisfied Tiarnan and he stared at its broken body for some time, before concluding that there was no more fun to be had with this particular friend.

Throughout, what impressed me was his lack of squeamishness and his absence of fear. To him it was a little playmate - nothing scarier than that. To many adults, it would be something to be avoided. I hope he doesn't learn that fear - for he certainly hasn't started life with it.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and nine months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and two months, and Tiarnan, nineteen months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 6:08 PM 


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