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 +

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The downside of eternal youth.

There is a downside to eternal youth that is little spoken of: it does strange things to people's perceptions.

Today, Ainan, my wife, and I went to an educational fair. We were just exploring possibilities for Ainan for further tertiary education beyond Singapore Polytechnic. I shall discuss the visit more fully in another post. However, I wish to relate something funny which happened while we were there.

I was asking about University options, of one man and he looked past me to where I thought Ainan would be standing.

"Would that be for your daughter?", he asked.

Now, I thought, to myself, I know Ainan is handsome to the point of being pretty, but he was, after all dressed as a boy. Then something made me track his gaze and look where he was looking. There, in his line of sight, stood my wife.

All, at once, I felt very silly, in an uncomfortable way. This man thought my wife, to be my daughter.

"No. It is for him." I countered, pointing at my young son.

"For him?", now it was his turn to be non-plussed.


"How old is he?"


There was a silence while he contemplated this incredible number.

I then found myself having to explain Ainan's educational history to him.

That was not the only time, today, that my wife was referred to as my daughter. In fact, by the time we left, this assumption was getting to be a bit of a habit of the Professors, and other representatives of Universities. Each time, I found myself watching wonder cross their faces as first I pointed to my son, and then explained that my "daughter" was actually my wife.

Now, lest you begin to worry about my aged appearance, it is not me who looks old, but my wife who looks young. You see, the oddest thing about her is that she hasn't changed in the thirteen years I have known her. She looks as youthful as the day we met.

Many people would think of this agelessness as a wonderful thing - and, in a way, it is. However, there is a downside to eternal youth, if only visited on one partner, and not the other. As time passes, we seem to draw apart in age. I have "matured" and now no longer look as fresh as I once did - though most judge me younger than my years. My wife, on the other hand, hasn't changed at all, in all those years. Thus the apparent age gap between us has grown. Indeed, so much so, that only the other day, Syahidah was approached by a modelling agent who wanted to represent her, but was concerned that she might not be old enough to be represented! (She would have to have reached her "majority").

Time has passed for me, but has not for her, at least, it seems so, to the eye. She is, now, as I remember to her to have been, when we first met. The pity of it is, I am not. I am not, however, displeased with either the way I look, or the way she does. It is just that I see, now, incomprehension, in the eyes of others, as they see this "strange couple". It is funny how a simple matter like not changing can, over time, produce such puzzled reactions. After all, the true age gap between us remains unchanged. That gap is not great and is quite common. However, the apparent age gap is now what causes confusion.

It has occurred to me that if my wife's appearance continues to remain unchanged that the day will come when people refer to her as my "grand-daughter". Should that ever occur, I don't think I will bother to explain - for no-one would believe the truth: even now, they doubt it. But what can I do? I am actually telling them the truth!

(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 @ 9:32 PM 


Blogger Mochi said...

That is one of the downsides of eternal youth most people don't see. But there are some that are even more that seem to always go unnoticed.

One, is the amount of grief that is put upon the one who lives forever. Especially since who would want to live until the end of the world and have no one to live with?

1:42 AM  
Anonymous exsingie said... are very funny Valentine :D What a sweet compliment to your beautiful wife. That she does not look her age may have something to do with her genes?? :)


4:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your story - especially the last paragraph - made me smile! Thank you for brightening my evening, although I can understand that this situation must have been rather strange for you. Yours is an interesting take on eternal youth. Best wishes, Maria

6:43 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, indeed, Mochi. Such a "gift" would be a mixed blessing.

As for Syahidah, she has the appearance of unchanging youth...but that does not mean there is not a clock ticking in there somewhere. (Though I would like her to live forever, of course, even if she has to cope with the downside: though I would rather an exception was made in my case!)

Thanks for your comment.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you, Ex Singie. You are right, she is blessed with particularly resilient genes in the aging department, I think. Her mum looks like a sister...

7:39 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I am glad you enjoyed it, Maria. Yes, it was strange...but funny, too.


7:40 AM  
Blogger UmmAsad said...

This is an interesting post, as I just met your mother in law on Friday and marvelled at her agelessness, also.

When I was growing up, I heard similar comments, except that they were directed at my father. He became white haired and partially bald when only 25, so people always that that he was my grandfather.


6:55 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you Raihanah, for your comment.

Yes, the rate of aging is highly variable between people. Perhaps it is of note that Syahidah's great grandfather lived to 104, but even to the end, looked so much younger than he was. It was said of him, that "he hadn't changed in decades". I rather think he would have lived much longer were it not for something unfortunate that I am not going to go into. Basically, I think he shouldn't have died so "young"!

At the other end of the scale, I once bumped into an old school friend just eight years after leaving school. I almost didn't recognize him. I thought he was his OWN father: it was difficult to believe that it was him.

Best wishes.

7:22 PM  

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