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 +

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Land of Pink Elephants

My father has his own ways of engaging with children. These were cultivated in my own childhood, many years ago.

While we were being driven in a taxi, through Singapore, the kids, particularly Tiarnan, twenty-four months, would become restless, at times. My father had a solution. He would point out of the window and go: "Look, there is a pink elephant!". Tiarnan and Fintan would duly look out of the window in search of this fabled creature. They would strain and peer closely at each and every cloud in the sky.

"Oh, it just went behind that cloud!", my father would further explain.

They would duly examine the cloud, for a hint of this pink elephant.

At one point, Fintan even said: "I see it! I see it!"

We turned to him.

"It is a white elephant.", he clarified. "There." He pointed up at a white cloud.

"A white elephant on a white cloud...very good, Fintan." I said.

Throughout his time here, my father would send the children on a hunt for a pink elephant whenever they seemed restless in the car.

When we got to Bintan, in Western Indonesia, we boarded a bus for the resort. The bus drove through an empty land, without any sign of housing or habitation - it was just a forest of small trees and tangled jungle.

While we drove across this green vista, the kids looked out of the window. Alongside the road were a series of electricity pylons (which Tiarnan pointed out to us, as something unusual, for he noted that he had never seen one before. In fact, he was the first to notice them. Singapore doesn't have them.)

Pylon after pylon sprinted past us.

Suddenly, Syahidah burst out laughing. "I saw an elephant, a pink elephant!"

I thought she was joking or had misperceived.

I looked but could not see a pink elephant. How odd it was that even I, now, was searching for a pink elephant.

"It was on the pylon: a pink elephant."

Ah. Now I understood. Some of the pylons had animals attached to them.

I joined her in laughter. After days of my father pointing out the window at mythical pink elephants flying through the sky, we had finally seen a flying pink elephant, suspended high up on an electricity pylon. How bizarre. It reminded me of the time I had promised Fintan a dinosaur mere minutes before stumbling across a large wild lizard. How funny is life: we make a joke with our children and it duly comes true. Hilarious.

So, the kids did get to see a pink elephant after all. My father is wiser than I could ever know. There are pink elephants in this world - and they do fly. At least, they do in that unheralded land of the pink elephant: Bintan.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and one month, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and seven months, and Tiarnan, two years exactly, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, 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 @ 12:15 PM 


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