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, August 11, 2009

The art of a child.

Sometimes, my children draw odd things. It is not, necessarily, that the drawings themselves look odd...but when you ask them what it is that they have drawn, the answers can sometimes be far from expected.

A few days, Ainan, nine, and Fintan, just turned six, were drawing. Both had chosen to draw something based on circles. Fintan's consisted of a couple of concentric circles, standing about being mysterious - and Ainan's was truly enigmatic: there was a circle, with various other things intersecting with it in a manner which escapes easy description, in easy words. It looked like some ancient hieroglyphic, from an undiscovered dead tongue.

Of course, seeing these mysterious objects drawn made me ponder what they were. No immediate answer came to mind, so I had to ask:

"Fintan: what's that?"

"A shockwave.", he observed, as if nothing could be more plain to see.

Now that I knew what it was, it did, indeed, look like a shockwave. The question that then came to me was: why was Fintan, all of six, drawing a shockwave?

Then I asked Ainan: "What is yours, then?"

"The LHC: the Large Hadron Collider.", he revealed, appraising it as he spoke.

Ah. No wonder I hadn't guessed. Yet, again, now that I knew what it was, it did, indeed, look like the Large Hadron Collider. He had even drawn the particle detectors.

It sometimes seems to me that my children live in a strange world. At times, it doesn't seem like a child's world at all. They can be very arcane, can my children, as children go. Their knowledge sometimes seems absurdly abstruse for kids yet in single digits, when it comes to years. Yet, that is how they are. They find pleasure in things that other children might find only boredom in - and I suppose that is a good thing, for the world needs people who find shockwaves and Large Hadron Colliders interesting enough to draw. In fact, we wouldn't enjoy so many things in our daily lives, were there not children who liked such things - for they become adults who work with such things, to the general benefit.

There is only one worry in all this: can they share their interests and viewpoints with other kids of their own age? What would they think, for instance, of Ainan's Large Hadron Collider? I cannot imagine that they would greet it with much enthusiasm. Luckily, however, Ainan finds his own enjoyment in such things, and, hopefully, that is enough for him. Anyway, he can always share it with his little brothers, who are remarkably open to him.

Now, what do you think Tiarnan, three, had drawn? Rather sweetly, he had drawn his mother's skirt, fluttering in a breeze, all graceful lines and curves.

We were both touched.

(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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IMDB is the Internet Movie Database for film and tv professionals.If you would like to look at my IMDb listing for which another fifteen credits are to be uploaded, (which will probably take several months before they are accepted) please go to: As I write, the listing is new and brief - however, by the time you read this it might have a dozen or a score of please do take a look. My son, Ainan Celeste Cawley, also has an IMDb listing. His is found at: My wife, Syahidah Osman Cawley, has a listing as well. Hers is found at:

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:38 PM 


Blogger Christine said...

There aren't enough adults that want to talk about things like the Large Hadron Collider, let alone children. I do wish that more people would be interested in those things. Those with higher intellectual abilities need to seek the company of other highly intelligent people. That's the hard thing about growing up as a gifted child, finding peers to relate to.

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there is a proverb that goes - "A child's life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark."

you are leaving your mark on your kids. you are simply reaping what you have been sowing.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Syahidah and Valentine said...

Re. Reaping...they surprise me all the I cannot claim specific credit for any particular output, because they do their own thing. That is the fun of it.

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Valentine,

I'm not sure if you've heard of Viktor Lowenfeld, who had mapped out drawing development in normal children. As an art therapist working with children and youth, I often use this as a rough guide to check for regression or mental development.

Another writer, Claire Golomb, writes on development of children who are artistically gifted. I've not worked with any before, and would love to see your kids' drawings! Do post some up.

7:52 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks for your post.

No. I haven't heard of either of these people...but when I have time, I shall try to take a look.

Re. photos. You will note that I haven't posted any for a long time. This is due to deficiencies in my computer system that don't allow it. It will have to await a new system.

Thanks for the info.

8:14 PM  

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