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 23, 2007

Maximal enjoyment.

How to be a parent is a question that troubles many a new parent. There are no simple, nor universal answers. How to parent depends on values, outlook, aims, culture, religion, society and many other factors. Consequently, there is no single answer applicable to all. There will be as many answers as there are children - for that is another factor, too: the nature of each child.

All this makes parenting a difficult matter, with no clear rules.

Today, for example, presented a parenting challenge which many may meet.

We were at Sentosa, Singapore's resort island, with my mother and sister. We were sitting having a drink in the shade, by a set of pools with fountains in them. Suddenly, Tiarnan made a break for it, running away from us, towards the pools. I got up and followed him. However, he managed to reach the pools before I did, and leapt in, up to his shins in water. He laughed. I dragged him out and back to our seating.

It was not long, however, before he saw another chance, while we were distracted and ran away again, this time leaping fully into the water and lying down in it. He was drenched by the time I got there. Seeing him like that, I made a decision to let him play.

He was soon joined by Fintan and the two of them began to run from pool to pool, splashing each other, lying in the water - and even trying to taste it (to a loud rebuke from me). Tiarnan and Fintan both took to standing on top of the fountains trying to block the outflow of water. Tiarnan at times sat amongst the gushing outlets and let it flow all over him.

It was notable that no other children were in the pools. They were ornamental and weren't meant for this use.

Passersby would laugh and stop and take photos, in particular of Tiarnan, the frolicing one year old.

One elderly Indian tourist applauded, saying: "Maximal enjoyment!" at the sight of Tiarnan playing in a pool.

I let them play not until they tired, but until I did. For I followed Tiarnan from pool to pool, ever on guard, beneath the hot sun, against accidents. After perhaps half-an-hour, I had had enough and dragged Tiarnan out, much to his dismay.

Fintan didn't come easily, either.

Now, other parents didn't let their children play so. Their concern was for public decorum. For me, however, it was a great pleasure to watch my children's joy, while they played in the water. So what if they got wet? So what if their clothing would take an hour or two to dry out? (For both were fully clothed when they first entered the water). None of that mattered. What mattered, for me and for them - was that they should, as the stranger said, get "maximal enjoyment" from their day on the island. That is far more important to them, in their childhood, than that everyone should think my children are under tight control (as so many of the other children are).

I prefer my way of bringing them up: it is called letting them play.

(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 @ 12:10 AM 


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