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, February 03, 2009

A yearning for snow.

My children have never seen snow. They have never known its white mystery falling in silence. They have never felt its surprising chill against the skin, what looks so soft, and welcoming, biting, hard.

When Ainan went to England, before Fintan was born, he said that he wanted to see snow. In all the time he was there, it never snowed once. He left England, as he had arrived: without seeing a single crystal of snow fall.

I am reminded of this, today, because, back in England, they are having the most extreme snowfall for the past 18 years. There are up to 12 inches of snowfall in parts of England, including the South-East, where it is usually less likely to fall. People are snowbound, unable to move from their homes. The roads are impassable. Only children would find it wonderful - but my children are, once more, not there to see it.

I stood before a world map, a couple of weeks ago, with Fintan, and asked him where in the world he would like to go. He looked at it, for the briefest time, quickly deciding what he wanted from the world and pointed at the map. His fingertip touched Greenland.

"It is very cold there, Fintan."

He said nothing, but looked further at the map.

Then he pointed again, this time his fingertip touched Antartica.

"I want to go there.", he said, with a sense of yearning in his eyes.

I didn't have the heart to tell him how difficult it was to visit such places, beautiful though they would be.

"One day, Fintan, one day..."

He continued to look at the map, for some while, his eyes switching between Greenland and Antartica, drinking in their whiteness (for the map had made it clear that they were lands of ice and snow).

I see in Fintan's yearning and Ainan's, too, a need to know the unknown, to experience the unexperienced. They both share this characteristic. Fintan didn't want to go anywhere "normal". He had known normal all his life. He had lived at the Equator and in Europe. He didn't want such places and such climates. He wanted a world of extremes, of brutal cold and devilish ice and the silence of eternally falling snow. That, for him, held magic.

I left him with the map, having learnt something. I thought it revealing that both brothers should share the same aspiration, though we had never spoken of the subject, together and I don't think they had either. They had independently come to the same view of what would make an interesting place to be.

One day, I hope to show them snow. One day, I hope to see them play in its white wonder and witness the silence of its fall.

I know one thing for sure: it won't happen if we stay in Singapore!

(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 @ 6:20 PM 


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