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, August 07, 2009

Like father, like son.

Yesterday, I sat at the computer typing, as I am now doing. Behind me, Tiarnan busied himself with something, that I could only hear, and not see.

"I like THAT one...and that one!", he said to himself.

Wondering just what it was that he liked, I turned around.

There, he had laid out a series of "Conan" books, side by side, in a long line. Each had a picture on the front of the heroic Conan engaged in some swordplay - either with other warriors (though hugely outnumbered, in all cases), or with a monster of some kind - usually, most oddly, a giant snake.

I rose from my desk and walked over to him, curious as to which of these heroic images he liked.

"Which ones do you like?", I asked him.

"All of them!", he said, sweeping his arm down the length of the long line of Conan books.

I thought this a funny moment and it made me wonder many things. Long ago, as a boy, I had read Robert E. Howard's Conan books. They had appealed to my teenage imagination, with their tales of the resolute Conan hacking his heroic way through a brutal ancient world, with barely a scratch, so talented was he in swordplay. There was something primal about the stories, something basic and fundamental, to early man - and therefore, by extension, to us all, for that is where we come from. (Though, of course, the details would be rather different and no man could survive long living as Conan did.)

Now, before me, my three year old son, was interested in the very same books that had held my childhood imagination (or some of them, anyway...I read a lot of books). It seems that the same heroic imagery had a hold over my three year old, as it had had over me as a thirteen year old. What was it about the images that appealed to him? Was it the strength of the hero? Was it the heroism itself? Was it its depiction of a bygone age, that had never actually been? I didn't ask him these questions, though: I just witnessed, warmly, his enthusiastic gaze, on those images that, once, long ago, had held a fascination for me, too.

Our children are much more like us, than we might imagine. Not only do they, of course, look like us...but the choices that they make, the tastes that they show, the things that they like to do and be, are often remarkably similar too. In a way, this is a very good thing - for it means that, as he grows up, I can share his interests supported as they are, by remembrance that I, too, had once been interested in the same things. We are, therefore, bonded together, by these shared sympathies, and likings.

You may be wondering why I have a series of Conan books in my house. Well, they are there for nostalgia. They are not the original ones that once I read - for those are back in England. They are another set that I came across - and found myself purchasing out of a desire to have something of my youth. They reminded me of the boy I had once been.

Now, of course, I don't think I could bring myself to read them. I don't think I would connect to them in the way I once did. They seem too distant from me now. Also, I have so many other things to do, that I don't find the time for the simple pleasures of reading fiction. Thus, I tend not to read fiction, anymore. If I do read, it is usually factual material.

Yet, it is good to have them around the house. It makes me feel that somewhere, the boy I used to be, is still around somewhere too. Only, now he is three - and likes two covers in particular!

(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.

We are the founders of Genghis Can, a copywriting, editing and proofreading agency, that handles all kinds of work, including technical and scientific material. If you need such services, or know someone who does, please go to: Thanks.

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 @ 11:17 PM 


Blogger Indiana said...

I recently ran across a Conan in the 2nd hand bookshop in HV and like you for nostalgia purchased it to remind me of much the same things you expressed one, I did re-read it, and honestly it opened up lots of memories of a much simpler time and was still a fantastic read. Maybe you should give the words a chance to remind you further?

9:21 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

How funny that you should have had the same experience, Indiana!

I didn't mention it, but my Conan series is second hand too...I don't even know if they are still in print: I chanced upon virtually the whole series, second hand, and snapped them up. Perhaps the series had been complete, but others had purchased individual items.

You are right. Perhaps I should try to find the time to give at least one of the books a chance.

Thanks for your comment.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

What is HV?

11:00 AM  

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