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, September 04, 2007

Changi Airport, Singapore: Hafiz's flight.

The other day, my wife went to the airport, with Tiarnan, nineteen months, to see Hafiz Osman, her brother, off to the Istanbul Contemporary Art Biennial, to which he has been invited, as an artist.

Tiarnan was most enthused by the airport, not having seen one before and was quite taken by the expanses available to simply just run and play.

His attention was, however, drawn by a mysterious doorway off to one side of the concourse. It was a strange place that had a power over people that he could not understand. From all over the airport, men would hurry to this doorway and disappear within. They would reappear some time later and walk out more slowly, in a rather more relaxed fashion. For him, this was most interesting: why were those men hurrying there? What happened beyond that magic rectangle in the wall? Why were the men different on leaving, compared to their attitude on entering? One can imagine all these questions going through his head.

He pointed towards the doorway and said to his mother, Syahidah: "Just go! I want to see!"

He was duly taken within and looked around. Reality did not meet expectation, yet he peered around curiously.

Upon leaving, his mother said: "It's just a toilet."

"Just a toilet..." he echoed, satisfied, at having seen it, but a little disappointed that the secret power he had noted was not as great as he had supposed.

Hearing this tale made me feel how even the littlest thing may seem magical to a very young child. They know so little of the world, that so much of it appears wonderfully mysterious - even a toilet in Changi Airport can seem strange and interesting when you are nineteen months old.

It is rather sad to think that, by the time they are adults most of these wondering children will have lost all sense of wonder and so nothing will seem magical anymore. I hope it doesn't happen to any of my children. Let them wonder, at life - lifelong.

(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 @ 8:08 PM 


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