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, October 19, 2007

Parenting a gifted child: anxious moments.

Every child has their needs. That is fine and understood. Yet, every child also has their wants - and sometimes those can be difficult to meet.

A few days ago, I was walking with Syahidah, through the central city area of Singapore, at night, surrounded by tall buildings of varying heights. Except for the heat, it could have been any modern city, anywhere - but that humid air bathing one is unmistakable.

Syahidah turned to me and said: "Ainan wants you to buy him a skyscraper...", my heart leapt at the size of the acquisition I was being asked to make: I knew he loved tall buildings, but his very own skyscraper was a little out of my league (perhaps Donald Trump could help out).

Before, however, I had time to feel too sick about the latest aspiration of my gifted kid, she continued her sentence: "book".

At once, I felt better. My parenting anxiety vanished in an instant: a book, a skyscraper book, well, I could manage that. Suddenly, my instant inadequacy at not being a billionaire able to indulge his children's every whim, evaporated: a book purchase, I could handle.

Of course, before the relief, came the laughter - my own, as I understood how disparate were my instant emotional reaction to what I thought was to be an excess of materialism and the actual request, for a simple book.

It made me think, though. As a parent, one is always faced with the requests of one's children for various things. Some of those requests are easily met. Yet others are harder and some are simply impossible. With more children, so the requirements expand - at some point, most parents will encounter this gulf between the ideal of what one's children would like, and the reality of what they can have. That is one of the tensions of parenting: the difference between the children's material and experiential aspirations and their practical reality.

I was rather glad that Ainan didn't really want a skyscraper - or at least wasn't saying that he wanted one. The question is, of course: if I were a billionaire, like Donald Trump, or Bill Gates - would he want one and would he ask for one? Ainan knows I can't just buy a skyscraper - but if he knew that I could, would that be on his shopping list?

I am unlikely to be in the position to test his response to such an abundance of wealth, being presently short of the odd billion or two. However, you never 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 @ 7:22 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This really reminds me of my son! For his fifth birthday he requested a rather expensive toy. When we told him that we couldn't afford it he was quiet for a few minutes and then he said, "I know! We can invite Bill Gates to my birthday party. He could easily afford it!"

6:33 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

How funny. Bill Gates is a great philanthropist, as well as businessman - but, as I understand it, he only supports associations and organizations, not individuals.

Your situation is one that many parents encounter. I, like them, rather wish I could get my children everything they would like. Sadly, for all but the Bill Gates types, that cannot be.

Best wishes on raising your ambitious son.

8:09 AM  

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