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 +

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A secret beauty therapist, Singapore

Yesterday, I noted something strange about Syahidah's toes. They had been painted. Now, this is no ordinary circumstance for Syahidah, for she never paints her toenails - or fingernails, for that matter. Furthermore, these were no ordinary colours. The big toe was in pink. The next toe was in green. The one next to it in blue - and so on, in a multi-coloured splash of colour. It was quite surprising.

Seeing me looking at them, she smiled and said: "Tiarnan did it."

Then she told me the tale. Tiarnan, twenty-two months, had held each toe in his right hand and took a marker pen in his left hand and carefully, most, most carefully, coloured in each toe nail, without straying onto the skin of the foot. It was quite neatly done. Then, when he had done with one colour and one toe, he would swap pens and do the next toe in a different colour, until the whole foot was done.

He was most pleased with his handiwork.

Now, what I wonder could have inspired him to do this? Well, when my mother and sister were here, he noticed, one day that they had painted their nails: one in red, the other with white tips. I can only imagine that this observation, of a couple of weeks before, had stuck with him and so, when presented with the unadorned foot of Syahidah, he thought to do something about it.

At a distance, one wouldn't know that it had not been done with nail varnish. It seems that even an ordinary marker pen can do a reasonable job of it, when done with care - by a toddler.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and no months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and five months, and Tiarnan, twenty-two 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 @ 7:16 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the dilemma. Our 15-yr old son has had emotional/anger issues for last 2-3 yrs eclipsing other intellectual stimulation interests. Now that our son has agreed to seek counsel, my husband and I are working with psychologists on those issues. With persistence, I hope it may eventually be sorted out. When much younger, his curiosity and brightness spilled out all over and we were inclined to facilitate his avid interest, encourage expression and foster creativity, try to answer innumerable questions, present him with mentally stimulating experiences, etc. but over the last few years he's shut himself out of engaging with others, and become too obsessed with the computer. Trouble is, this young man has just recently been 'diagnosed' with I.Q. 150. Within last couple years he's gotten into trouble with school, law, family, and we are hoping the psychological fix will resolve some of the social issues, but in the meantime how do we 1) 'apologize' to our son for thinking he was acting out deliberately, since his outward prickliness prompted what has been perceived as punishment and get him back onto speaking terms with us, 2) promote advanced learning situations that he might be interested, 3) and, how do we think about the future i.e. will he be able to live on his own? (Turns out that his underlying facility for perfect pitch, memory, and manual dexterity had allowed him into very gifted music programs in the past, but teachers complained he didn't put any time into practice nor provide much emotional content which was discouraging to him, and he 'dropped' out of that long-term activity.) We'd always thought he'd be interested in participating in enriching activities such as traveling,learning to fly, joining chess club, etc., but he's steadfastly refused to do anything we suggested for the last few years.

10:37 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

This is a difficult situation.

Perhaps you should begin by engaging him in the area of his greatest interest: computers. Since that is what he loves doing, finding a way to him, through that seems the most likely to succeed. What does he like doing on the computer? Are there other computer based activities you could introduce him to? Perhaps computer based learning might be to his liking?

Sometimes the hormonal surge that accompanies puberty can make for pretty unpleasant personality changes - aggression and anger among them. It seems that this has happened to your son. Luckily, surge hormone levels fade as time passes. He may begin to be much more pleasant in his twenties and thirties.

I would suggest looking at things from his perspective. Approach him through what he likes doing and try not to communicate disapproval on such issues - for that will only push him further away.

He is very bright. He could learn anything quickly. So, even if he is "dropping out" now - that does not mean he won't be able to catch up in an area of chosen interest at any future time. He will always be bright - and that will help later when he mellows.

I would be very wary if the psychologist suggests a drug regimen of any kind. All psychiatric drugs destroy the mind. All of them, without exception, are harmful, in some way. Some of them create stupidity, and memory dysfunction. You don't want that for your son, no matter how he is.

If you show interest in his interests and do not disapprove, he may begin to let you back in.

Good luck.

1:26 PM  

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