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 +

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Halloween Victory for the kids.

I wrote, some time ago, of an objector, who managed to stop an official Halloween celebration at our estate. His one, anonymous voice, was enough to cancel the event for all of our estate. Warmingly, however, the parents of the estate did not let this official disapproval stop them.

On October 31st, trick or treating went ahead, on our estate, despite the cancellation. A group of parents got together, in resistance to the ban, and formed their own Halloween celebration. A list of houses was put together, which had explicitly given their permission to be "tricked or treated" and everyone got together at the appointed hour on Halloween.

I find it refreshing that, despite the unwillingness of the estate management to hold a Halloween celebration, that the parents themselves should do so. It just shows that not everyone living in Singapore can be cowed by official disapproval. Officialdom had said no to a celebration - but the children wanted a celebration - and so a celebration was arranged. I like that spirit.

Usually, my wife and I would take our children around from house to house, dressed up in various horrible ways, to "trick or treat", on our estate. This Halloween, however, we thought to celebrate in a different way. Ainan, Fintan and Tiarnan, went trick or treating accompanied by adults and their friends - while we went home, to surprise the children who came trick or treating.

Our house was dark. Just a single candle lit the living room onto which the front door opens. The large, wooden door to our home, lay closed, but for a tiny gap, waiting for the children to arrive.

It was funny what happened when they did. Most of them would see our silent, waiting front door and hesitate (I was looking through the spyhole). They would nudge and urge each other forward, and each would, in turn, resist being the first. Eventually, they would muster enough courage to begin to approach.

I would then begin to open the door very slowly - which, to them, would appear to open by itself. This would always stop them in their tracks. One pair even ran away, to leave their lonesome friend rooted to the ground: "You can't run away!" she cried, "Come back!". After much persuasion, they crept back, hesitantly.

The large, dark brown door to our home would continue to open, slowly, creakingly.

The kids would stop, fearful to proceed.

Then, they would see a ghostly figure in the room, revealed: white sheeted and still, lit from below by a single candle, carrying a basket full of sweets.

"Cool!", opined one brave kid, "Cool!"

The ghost would waft forward, slowly steadily, in silence, holding out the basket. Tellingly, some kids could not bring themselves to approach - and would, instead, let their friends take the sweets for them. Then they would hurry away, to safety.

One teenage girl, who should have been old enough to be brave, wouldn't approach at all. "No tricks, right? No tricks!". She looked and sounded nervous.

Her friends took the sweets for her and gave a pat on the head, touched by her sensitivity.

Once the sweets had been taken, the ghost wafted back into the room and the door began to close slowly, creakingly upon them. Children's eyes would follow the movement of the door, as if hypnotized - and then they would turn to leave, looking back, several times.

One group of boys could still be heard, walking away into the distance, shouting: "Cool! That was cool!"

Neither the door, nor the ghost, spoke a single word.

That was how we celebrated Halloween.

My thanks go to Syahidah, the "ghost", who had covered herself in a white blanket for the occasion. Lighting design by Syahidah. Self-propelled door by Valentine, creaks, by Nature.

We had a great time, successfully spooking quite a few kids, which, I think, should be the aim of Halloween.

I am glad that our estate has enough spirit not to be suppressed by the naysaying of one, childless, anonymous curmudgeon.

The children of the estate had a great thanks to all the parents involved in arranging our Alternative Halloween Celebration. In particular, I would like to thank Karen McDowell and Christine, as organizers of the evening.

Special thanks goes to Syahidah, for suffering the heat of her costume and being such a scarey ghost.

(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 @ 11:35 AM 


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