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 +

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Considering other people's lives

Fintan, four, is a boy of high social intelligence (interpersonal intelligence). He is ever watching, learning and understanding other people's lives. Some children, I have noted, hardly give anyone else a thought. Perhaps they lack empathy, or interest in others. Perhaps they are too self-centred. Perhaps some of them are autistic or tending towards it. Fintan, on the other hand, is a keen social observer.

Today, he made a remark which brought his social gifts to my attention. We had just visited the local shop, in my case to buy some food, in his case to buy a Transformer robot. As we walked home, he looked up at me, his curly hair limned by the street lamps, and asked: "Why is that shop open at night?" It was about 9 p.m so that was a fair question.

I didn't answer why, I answered the "what" of it. "Well, he is open until 10 pm."

He didn't reveal whether he considered this an adequate reply. He just looked up at me again, and asked: "How does he eat his dinner? How does he go to the toilet?"

How, indeed. The shopkeeper worked alone, in his shop, from 9 am to 10 pm everyday apart from Sunday when he stopped early, at 2 pm. Fintan, rather than dwell on the toy purchase clutched in his hand, actually went to the trouble of considering another person's life. Fintan wondered how this man lived, how he did the things everyone has to do - when there was no-one else to help him mind his shop. To me, that indicated a high degree of social intelligence and understanding. He was showing insight into the other man's position. It also showed that he actually cared about other people's situation - for if he didn't have such empathy - he wouldn't bother himself to think about it.

I find it warming that Fintan actually thinks about other people's lives, that he is actually interested enough to try to understand them. Many, many children - perhaps most - would not have given a single thought to what a shopkeeper's day must be like. Most children would grow up into adults who never gave it a thought, either. Fintan, on the other hand, considered it a problem worthy of attention. How does a shopkeeper live? Fintan would like to know.

(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 @ 9:12 PM 


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