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 +

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Age of the Universe to one Young

Fintan is four years old. He has just begun. He sees the world, therefore, with fresher eyes than mine and is able to wonder at things I no longer do. Thus, to speak with him, sometimes, is to see again, a younger world I can no longer see directly. It is to see wonder, where I see ordinariness.

The other day, Fintan and I were walking together in a park area. We came to a triangular area that had been cordoned off, rather like a crime scene, with tape with "Danger Keep Out", written on it.

Fintan looked at this tape and understood that its intent was to exclude.

"Why did they do this Daddy?"

"I don't know. Perhaps the branches are falling."

He considered this for a second and found it wanting: "Why do the branches fall?"

“Because I think they are old and weak.”

That surprised him. He looked around him then, with appraising eyes.

"Is this place old?"


"Is the world old, too?"


"All the world?"

"Yes Fintan."

He looked at the world with a new understanding and a new concern - as if perhaps it might crumble away before him out of sheer antiquity.

Then a new thought came to him. I could see it in his eyes before he spoke.

"Are people old, too?"


Then it came at last: his deepest concern. "Are you old Daddy?"

"Yes, Fintan, I am old."

I felt it, then, the decades past, within me, as I looked down on my four year old son. For him, I was as old as a Redwood is to me. I was like the ground on which I stood: ancient.

He didn't say anything more. He just considered, in the quietness of his eyes, his ever appraising eyes, the antique that was his Daddy.

Everything was old compared to my Fintan. But then, the beginning is ever more interesting than the end.

Fintan's wonder, was contagious and, for a time thereafter, I felt the antiquity of the world, acutely.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and eleven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and four months, and Tiarnan, twenty-one 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 @ 8:46 PM 


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