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 +

Friday, April 10, 2009

An elephant for breakfast.

Last week, I had an elephant for breakfast. That might sound a little greedy and anti-green...but I shall explain.

At breakfast time, in Chiangmai, Thailand, where we were staying, an elephant walked past the window, right outside our hotel bungalow. As you can imagine, this was rather a surreal sight. Now, not being one who has elephants walk past his window every morning, I rushed out with a camera and my son, Tiarnan, three, to see what this elephant was up to.

We found the elephant just outside the main hotel building. Rather oddly, he was twirling a hula-hoop with his trunk, which he seemed to enjoy. I should point out that this was a "baby" elephant, or at least a child, because it was not fully grown, yet. He enjoyed playing. Standing beside the elephant was a "mahout".

Tiarnan was fascinated. Here was a baby elephant who liked to play games. He stood beside me, in entranced silence, his gaze upon the elephant's every deed.

The elephant turned out to be quite a versatile animal, with many a "trick" at his command. At one point, he played a harmonica with the air blown through his trunk. Tiarnan laughed at this: a musical elephant. At another, he took the proffered Thai Baht note from my hand, which I was trying to tip the mahout/elephant with, by sucking on it, and passed it to his mahout. He picked up a straw hat, nearby and put it on peoples' heads, then took it off again and put it on someone else's head. All of this, was with his trunk, of course. When we asked for a photograph, the elephant came toward us, somewhat, then lifted up one leg and raised his trunk into the air, to pose for it, rather dramatically. He kept the pose until he had heard the last click of our cameras (my sister in law was taking photos, too), then he dropped his leg and trunk.

Promisingly, the mahout had an easel available, but the elephant didn't seem in the mood for that and so we never saw the elephant paint.

By the time the elephant sauntered off back down the lane, outside our bungalow, back to its waiting mother, both Tiarnan and I were most impressed by this elephant's intelligence. Watching it at play, I rather felt there was a happy, experimental, human child stuck inside its massive body. Indeed, looking at the size of its head, and the brain that was no doubt there, I did wonder at just how intelligent elephants really are. It seems such a pity that some people see fit to shoot elephants for sport or their tusks. They are magnificent and intelligent animals.

Where had the elephant come from? Well, much as a hotel might keep a fine dog, in some countries, in Thailand, this particular hotel kept a young elephant and its mother (both female, I think), on the property. They were there to entertain the children, but seemed well looked after. While we were there, Tiarnan visited the elephants every day. He seemed most interested in their doings and beings. He was a lot braver than he should have been, however, and sometimes wanted to get rather too close to them, while they rested. I would have to pull him back, since, though they seemed friendly and tame enough...I wasn't sure they might not step on my little boy without really noticing him.

One thing is for sure: I will never forget the day I had an elephant for breakfast.

(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 @ 9:31 AM 


Blogger Christine said...

I would have loved to see that! I want to go to Thailand someday.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

It is quite an alien place Christine if you go to an area where English is not commonly spoken, like we did. An interesting experience though.

Kind regards

3:52 PM  

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