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, October 23, 2007

Celebrity sighting on a train

Today I had the strangest of experiences.

I was sitting on a train, as I rarely do, since I rarely take a train, when I found myself looking at the newspaper of the man sitting next to me. He was in his fifties, and Chinese. The newspaper was called the New Paper - a tabloid.

Perhaps it is not the best of manners, but there was nothing better to do, on the journey, than read his newspaper as he did. He appeared not to notice.

Then, he turned the page. I felt a tingle of surprise, because there, in the newspaper, was a picture of my son, Ainan, 7, taken by my wife (but available on the internet), next to a brief description of his record breaking feat, in passing an O level at only 7 years and 1 month. It was just a few lines.

Now, this is a newspaper that I didn't expect to cover Ainan, at all - since it only deals in "exclusives" - meaning their policy is to run stories that no-one else has. Yet, that didn't apply to Ainan since he had been on the front page of Berita Harian the day before (and mentioned in another article's first paragraph in an article about "Wonder Kids", in the Straits Times, the leading English language daily, the same day). Ainan's story was not exclusive - yet they had mentioned him.

A feeling of surreality came over me as this man began to read about my son. I studied him, as his eyes studied the few words written before him. His eyes lingered long over them, drinking them in, as if he had stumbled upon a wine of unexpected vintage. It felt so strange that I, Ainan's father, was sitting anonymously next to him, as he read of him. He then looked up from the single paragraph, at the photograph above. Again, his eyes spent long, too, too, long, on Ainan's face and then looked across at the board pictured alongside him, with his chemical equations, scrawled on it. He spent perhaps three minutes on an article that would only take about ten seconds to consume, at a normal reading pace. Then he looked away and read the other page - but, before he turned the page, he looked back, again, at my son's face.

I felt a peculiar warmth as I watched this display. I wanted to smile, but didn't: I just observed him.

All over Singapore, other people were reading of Ainan - and I walked among them, utterly unnoticed. What an odd experience.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and ten months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and three months, and Tiarnan, twenty months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, 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 @ 11:07 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

:) i am one of those people, i suppose. your son is very talented. we're all proud of him!
thanks to you as his father to blog about him. people like me are really interested

11:12 AM  

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