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 +

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The beginnings of sibling rivalry: competition.

Observing Tiarnan is always interesting. The little things he does say so much.

On October 21st 2007, Tiarnan was offered some melon, on a plate. Now, it must be remembered that, at twenty months, Tiarnan was (and is) the youngest and the smallest member of this particular household. He has two older siblings. So what effect does having two older, bigger siblings have on him? Well, some of the effects are funny.

He reached out for the melon with his broad hand and put a piece in his mouth, rather quickly. It bulged in his mouth, inflating his cheek. He began to chew on it. Then he reached for another - and quickly popped it in his mouth. Another bulge appeared in his cheek, on the other side. He chewed on them both, with some difficulty. He looked around as if checking to see who was nearby. Then he reached for another piece of melon and popped it in his mouth, with more difficulty than the first two. He tried to chew but wasn't so successful. Finally, he took the last piece of melon and stuffed it in his mouth which, by this time, was totally filled with dripping melon. He looked like he was holding a sack of potatoes in his mouth.

He was very anxious to get all of the food in his mouth as quickly as possible. He seemed concerned that, if he didn't, his elder, bigger, stronger brothers would take it all and he would be left with nothing. So, here we see a rather comic effect of having older siblings: a competition for food. Tiarnan really wants to make sure he gets all the good food he can - so when he sees good things on offer, he rushes to stuff it in his mouth, lest his brothers deprive him of it. It is both funny and sweet to see such a little boy behave in this way. I feel he thinks of himself as relatively powerless, compared to them - but just by the expedient of hiding all the food in his mouth, where he doubts his brothers will be able to get at it, he manages to adjust to the situation.

I don't know what has led him to understand things in this way - for, of course, there would always be food for him. Yet, it seems that he sees his own position as precarious when it comes to such resources as good food. He sees a need to compete in the best way that he can: the fastest grab and the biggest mouthful. This is not the first time he has done this: he has done it many times before - he absolutely fills his mouth with the food he likes, before he settles down to the task of absorbing it. His first priority is to ensure that he gets his share of it, before the others do. Perhaps this is the beginning of sibling rivalry, then: the competition over food. It all boils down to survival, then.

Isn't it a funny world? A mere toddler is already entrained to compete for resources.

I wonder if he will remain as competitive when he grows up - or if this is just his adaptation to relative powerlessness in a house filled with older siblings. I shall just have to wait and see.

(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 @ 6:16 PM 


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