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 +

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A new meaning of "pet food".

At the beginning of July, we had a new addition to the house: a little baby hamster, all of two months old. The kids gathered around to watch its every move. Tiarnan, two, in particular, was taken by it.

There was something about Tiarnan's gaze and attitude that led to a question forming in the mind of both myself and my wife.

"Tiarnan," began Syahidah, his mother, "If there was no food in the house, would you eat Speedy?" For Speedy was the hamster's name.

He looked at Speedy, and nodded. "Hmmm."

Oh dear. For him, it seemed pet food meant something else altogether.

We told him then and there that Speedy wasn't meant to be eaten, but to be played with. He listened carefully and absorbed the lesson. However, in the next few days, I caught him referring to Speedy as "chicken". Quite comically, he took to miming putting Speedy in his mouth and swallowing - but then saying to himself as he did so: "Don't eat! Don't eat!"

I don't know whether Tiarnan was teasing me or not, once he knew our attitude to Speedy becoming a fast lunch. Knowing Tiarnan, as I do, it is quite possible that he was teasing us. Then, again, it is also possible that he saw the small animal as an attractive bite to eat - since it was readily available and may have looked appetizing to his two year old mind.

Tiarnan's reaction to the first animal we have had in the house is a good reminder that the notion of a pet is not something innate in us, but something we acquire from our culture. A deeper notion is that of other creatures being food - and that is the one that Tiarnan saw immediately on sighting our cute little fur ball of a hamster.

Anyway, the hamster survived his first couple of weeks, unscathed and Tiarnan has become fond of watching him in his cage and trying to catch a hold of him (far from easy since ours is the fastest breed of hamster available).

Nevertheless, I don't think I am ever likely to forget what "pet food" initially meant for two-year old Tiarnan.

(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 @ 8:09 PM 


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