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 +

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The best colour in the world.

Fintan has a favourite colour: you'll never guess which it is.

The day before yesterday, Fintan came to me holding a blue bicycle helmet in his hand. I had already examined it, with Tiarnan earlier and knew that it had a missing fastener. It needed replacing - either the fastener or the helmet.

"Daddy...", he began, his eyes searching mine, his tongue searching for the right words to approach the issue, delicately, "Can you buy me an orange helmet?"

"OK...we will do it this weekend."

Unusually, though gratified by that, he didn't seem content.

"Daddy...", he began again, measuring the size of my indulgence, inwardly, "Can you buy me a new bike?"

Now, a bicycle helmet, I could handle, but I wasn't prepared for a new bike: the old one still had the mandatory two wheels and that was good enough for me.

"Why?", I probed, realizing I couldn't see why he would need a NEW bike, when the old one was not broken down.

"Because it is not orange."

Ah. I see. I dwelt on his words for a moment or two, in silence.

"Can I have an orange helmet and an orange bike, Daddy?" He repeated, no longer prepared to wait for an answer.

"You can have an orange helmet. But not an orange bike - they are very expensive."

He was silent for only a moment.

Then he came back with a very reasonable tone: "Okaaay. I will have an orange helmet...but use the old bike."

I was warmed by the reasonableness of his reply. He understood and accepted the situation and my imposed limitation on his desires. He is good like that. Fintan is very accommodating. He never fails to understand the reality of a situation when it is presented to him. This makes it a whole lot easier communicating to my newly-minted five year old. (Newly minted because he has just turned five, a matter of days ago.)

This whole exchange is characteristic of Fintan. He has a particular aesthetic outlook, with a strong point of view on aesthetic matters - one which is very much his own, uninfluenced, it seems, by our own choices. He makes decisions based on aesthetic priorities over other considerations. It is interesting to watch a young child so certain of his views of what is beautiful, of what is acceptable, of what is desirable. He never fails to have an opinion on such matters. It seems that there is a nascent artist in him waiting to come out - for the first gift of an artist is a point of view: without that the art would have no personality or individuality. Fintan, at least, has an aesthetic point of view.

This is not our only brush with the colour orange recently. It looks like we will be living in an orange world for some time to come.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, 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, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:34 AM 


Blogger Miao said...

I like one of Proust's quotes: Beauty lies not in colours but in their harmony.

The title of your post reminded me of that.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Well, in Fintan's case his choices are in harmony with each other - though perhaps not with the rest of the world!

Best wishes Miao.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

A fine artist has fine perspective, perception, life experience, and feeling (among other qualities.) Although I am not an artist myself, I do admire those that are not afraid to view the world in a way that is unique. A different worldview in one individual can result in a different view for the entire world. I hope to see Fintan's paintings in a famous gallery or museum one day.

1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha! Orange.

When I was twenty-five months old, my parents asked my opinion on what my new baby brother should be named. After considering carefully, I replied:


My reasoning was:
"It's a good color and a great flavor and it doesn't rhyme with anything, so kids won't be able to tease him on the playground."

While giving me full marks for originality, my parents instead decided on "Noah". They didn't fund my flying-bicycle proposal when I was five, either. Hmph. I wonder about their judgement sometimes...


9:35 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you, EH, for sharing a wonderful moment of your childhood. Perhaps Fintan is not the only child to appreciate the qualities of ORANGE!

9:25 PM  

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