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, November 09, 2007

Friendship between species: a love of animals.

Tiarnan, twenty one months, rather likes animals. He reacts to them as if he is seeing a particularly sweet thing: with a big smile and evident excitement.

A couple of days ago, I was walking Tiarnan in the park when he saw a dog. He took me by the hand and dragged me towards it. He then stood watching it for a while, before reaching out, tentatively, with a single outstretched finger, to touch its white hair. It was a small dog, perhaps a third of his height, with white hair all over, apart from brown on its face. As soon as his finger touched it, he pulled it back, as if unsure of the reaction. His face was all intent, his lip covering his lower teeth, in concentration.

After nothing untoward happened and the dog didn't seem to mind, he reached out again. This time he let his touch linger longer. He pulled away more slowly. Nothing happened. So this time he reached out again and patted the dog. No reaction. So then he placed his hand on the dog and squeezed. Again, no reaction: I thought the dog was most tolerant. Finally he set about touching various parts of the dog to see how they would feel and what would happen. He squeezed the back (again); he grabbed the short white tail; he patted the head; he pulled at the ears - and then his wandered around to the front of the dog's face, near the teeth. I pulled him back at that. Yet, it was good to note how well the dog was taking all of this. It must be used to the ministrations of children.

After some minutes, of this, I thought that the dog and owner had had enough of this, so I dragged him away. He was most reluctant and kept on looking back. "Doggie...doggie..." he kept on moaning. Finally, when we were about 30 metres away, he took a stand, and pulled against my hand, trying to halt me: I did. I let go of him. He ran off to one side where there was a giant, fallen palm branch, about 6 or 7 feet long and he began to drag it behind him. He walked over to the dog and placed the palm before it, such that green leaves rested on the dog.

He looked at the dog's failure to react, then moved forward and shoved the leaves towards its face. It was clear that Tiarnan, in a gesture of concern, for the dog, was trying to feed it. Little did he know that it wasn't a natural vegetarian. "He eats meat, Tiarnan, not plants." I said, to him, but he ignored me, thinking, perhaps, that if only he tried harder to attract the dog's notice with his offering that it would eat. He pushed it towards the dog again. Then he placed a couple of leaves on its face, directly. Nothing happened. The dog treated the plant as if it weren't there.

Finally, Tiarnan understood that the dog didn't want to eat it. He then picked up the branch and dragged it back the fifteen metres or so, to where he had found it, and replaced it.

We said our goodbyes to the dog and Tiarnan walked off happily with me.

I found the whole incident very sweet to behold. Tiarnan was clearly trying to befriend the dog and had made an offering of what he thought would be food for the dog. You see, we don't have a pet and he has never seen a dog eat - so he doesn't know that they are carnivores. He just thought that that giant branch looked appetizing.

It seems, from this evidence, and much else beside that we should really get our children a pet - preferably a furry one, if Tiarnan's reaction to the dog's coat is anything to go by.

(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 @ 8:45 AM 


Blogger Miao said...

Since you are on the topic of animals, I just want to mention as a passing remark that I cannot stand animal cruelty. I agree with Kant when he said that you can judge a person's character just by observing how he treats animals. I also agree with Bentham that cruelty cannot be justified by the lack of reasoning power in animals - the main question is, "Can they suffer?"

10:18 PM  

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