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 +

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Of beauty and ugliness.

There is a beauty in the apt expression of words. There is a beauty too, in an honest description of childhood - for in a child's mind, much is still beautiful that, by adulthood, seems no longer. I have tried to write of the beauty of the child's world, through my daily glimpses of it, in my own sons. I have tried also to choose words which, though simple, are beautiful in themselves, for how they capture that world.

So, I have been striving to embody some of this beauty, that I see, daily, in my life, on these electronic pages. To some extent, I am sure that I have succeeded - for some of my posts have captured some of the daily wonders that I encounter. It is true, however, that, at other times, I have failed to fully reflect the beauty that I see: my words do not come close to embodying those moments that are most precious - yet, at least, I have tried. Something of those times will, thus, remain for future contemplation.

Now, on the one hand we have my own striving to capture beauty - but on the other hand, I have seen much ugliness on the internet. There are truly a vast horde of stupid, jealous, spiteful people out there in the world. In particular, quite a few of them seem to come from Singapore. I say this because, on the odd forum, here and there, I have seen the most unpleasant of comments, coming from people who almost always have Chinese names, and use terms such as Ang Moh...they also have Singlish phrasing, so I can conclude that they are Singaporean. More than a few of their remarks are highly insulting about me, or members of my family - and, this is what gets me most, THEIR INFORMATION IS ALMOST ALWAYS WRONG. Yet, they spew their spite, and justify their erroneous views with what amounts to lies, on the internet. Oddly, I have seen this kind of behaviour from two nationalities only: Singaporeans, and Americans. The Americans seem to be doing so out of an extreme sense of competitiveness (ie. your son can't possibly be brighter than my son and I am going to do my damndest to prove it...). The Singaporeans are often doing it out of sinocentric racism. It is quite sad to watch what they do, online, to one of their own citizens. Yet, they don't see Ainan as a Singaporean - they see him as a MALAY...and so they feel apart from him. They think him "OTHER" and therefore unworthy of the fellow feeling that citizens of most countries, show to their fellow citizens. Singapore is a country in which anyone who is non-Chinese is never fully integrated, never fully accepted, by the majority (who are, I might point out, Chinese themselves). Indeed, the way the Chinese forum commenters treated our family is one of the big reasons we decided to leave Singapore. There was just no way that I was going to bring my family up in a country which had so much hate of its own people. Why should I subject them to daily racism, when I can easily find another country that will treat them as one of their own? So, we did...

Anyway, for me, the internet is a place of contrasts, therefore. I am making my own personal efforts to create something of lasting beauty - my thoughts on my children's childhood as they grow up - amidst a world of public arenas that are anything but beautiful. It is a strange contrast. You see the medium that allows me to attempt to express the beauty that I see, daily, is also the medium that allows these antagonists to spew their hate, their envy, their misunderstandings and their, lets be blunt, racism.

It is my hope that the beauty that I succeed in capturing, on these virtual pages, will outshine the ugliness that is found, all over the internet. Personally, I would rather a world that did not have such people in it, as I have seen writing rubbish on the net. Their minds are too crude, too uninformed, too dim and too nasty, to be allowed access to the public arena. Yet, there they are. Would it not be a better world were they not to exist? I can't help but feel that they would vanish, if they were readily identifiable on the net. My thoughts, therefore, again turn to the idea of anonymity on the net. I don't feel there should be any. Were everybody to be immediately identifiable, people such as I have seen, would not dare to write the things they do, lest they face libel charges, or other consequences. A net without anonymity would be a much better one, I think.

In the meantime, I hope my words have more power than theirs; that my thoughts have more readers than theirs - that my readers are able to distinguish truth from lies; beauty from ugliness.

Thank you for reading.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 6 and Tiarnan, 4, this month, please go to:

I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.

My Internet Movie Database listing is at:
Ainan's IMDB listing is at
Syahidah's IMDB listing is at

Our editing, proofreading and copywriting company, Genghis Can, is at

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited. Use only with permission. Thank you.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 4:01 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was wondering whether ainan is goin going to take his a level in chemistry this year? because i am too!!!! :D

3:05 AM  
Anonymous Casandra Ramírez said...

It is really sad to know there are people willing to insult you and your family.
You shouldn't have to go through something like that, but unfortunately, some people are just too blinded by their negativity to see the beauty of the world.
You and your wife have done an incredible work raising those little angels and someday they'll show the world that the most important thing is not the country you live in, but what you do with your life.
Take care, and be sure that there's still people who support you.

4:39 AM  
Anonymous ainen said...

Hi Mr Cawlay,

I used to think Ainan (and ur family) had a great opportunity in Singapore, the fact that they advance so much compared to Malaysia.. but it's too sad their mentality seems to be backward! it is obvious though they see Ainan as MALAY instead of foreigners.. I beleive if Ainan has blue eyes and blonde hair, they would treat him as a king (or not?) who knows? Have you try any luck to go to UK? to name great varsities there, Ainan deserves a place where people value knowledge rather than personal interest..

ok then, hope to read more about Ainan's updates soon! perhaps on how you make a move to UK! :)


8:06 AM  
Blogger beAr said...

If you can read Chinese, you'd find that many Chinese from China are also like that (spewing nonsense on the internet).

Just a thought: What would happen if your family were a Malaysian Chinese family with a wunderkind? My guess is that you'd probably be just as slighted by the authorities as you were in Singapore, judging by the frequent reports of disgruntled Chinese students in Malaysia who miss out on places in university/scholarships.

I think xenophobia exists everywhere. It just happens that you were in the minority group in Singapore, whereas you belong to the majority group in Malaysia.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi BeAr,

I hope you are keeping well.

Yes. You are right. We may have had just as many problems were we Chinese in Malaysia. However, we were a partly Malay family, in Singapore...and that means that one is essentially an outsider from the core of things. It was tiring to fight against this outsider status, so we thought it better to go somewhere where we wouldn't have to fight that. Malaysia is proving to be a good choice. Here there are no social forces arrayed against us. It is refreshing.

I didn't know that about mainland Chinese. Thanks for letting me know. Perhaps this is a cultural thing, then. It is a pity, for I do think it makes minorities, in particular, feel unwelcome and unwanted.

Best wishes to you in Singapore. I hope all is going well for you.

Kind regards

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well said

2:45 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

"Well said"...thank you for your own well said, economy of words.

Kind regards

2:49 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you, Casandra, for your supportive words. I am particularly taken by your observation that: "It is not the country you live in, but what you do with your life". That is so right. I think it is easy to forget that we live in a globally interconnected world. Therefore, where one grows up is becoming immaterial - no matter where one is from, one's life and works and doings, can affect the whole of the world.

It is better therefore, that Ainan and my other sons, have an environment that is warm towards them - as Malaysia is - than one which is cool - as Singapore was. At least, they might have the chance to flourish the better. There is no telling, just yet, what they might be, or what might come of them - but I am content to know that, at the very least, I am giving them a warm world in which to grow in.

Best wishes to you...and thanks for your kind thoughts.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Ainen,

How funny that your name should be so close to that of my son's!

Yes, Singapore is advanced in infrastructure, but a little backwards in terms of social attitudes. It is a country with a lot more racism than many places - despite all this talk of being "multiracial"...Indians and Malays have a hard time of it there. Ang Mohs, (whites) also get their fair share of racism, in certain areas.

Re. the UK. We don't know, yet, what Ainan's entire educational path might look like, or where he might end up working. So, anything is possible. For the time being, however, we are VERY happy in Malaysia. It is a very warm place, for us, very welcoming.

Thank you for your interest.

Kind regards

2:58 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. Chemistry...Ainan took and passed his AS level Chemistry last year. We haven't decided our plans for this year.

Thanks for your question.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep creating beauty here, Valentine. The beauty that shines through your words will drown out all the ugliness distributed elsewhere.

7:41 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you, Carina, I will try.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous jkreuben said...

Well, we certainly have v little opportunities to advance in Malaysia academically and had to leave and were given more equality in Singapore, academically and eventually in job opportunities and career. These would all not have been possible in Malaysia where we would not be given such equality. You are lucky.

9:00 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

There is no true equality in Singapore. If you are Malay or Indian, you will be strongly discriminated against. However, if you are Chinese, you will think "how equal it is"...because it is very much a pro-Chinese state. Singapore is the most racist country that I have lived in, for a significant time.

I understand that there are problems for the Chinese in Malaysia - but, you know what, these are far less than the problems for Malays in Singapore.

Chinese succeed in great numbers in Malaysia. On the other hand, ALL choice positions end up in Chinese hands in Singapore. There is a big difference.

Good for you that you found opportunities in Singapore - however, you should be aware that those opps are distributed in Singapore on the basis of race, too.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Fox said...

What utter BS to say that Malaysia is less racist than Singapore. In fact, there are openly racist government policies in Malaysia.

For example,

1. Malaysian Malays are offered housing subsidies on account of their race. Such subsidies are not available to Indian and Chinese Malaysians.

2. The matriculation program, which
is widely regarded in Malaysia as an easier way of entering public universities, takes in mostly Malays students.

3. Public scholarship awards favour Malays. Chinese and Indian Malaysians are discriminated against in their applications for such awards. A Malay with 9As for his/her SPM has a far better chance of getting a PSC scholarship than a Chinese or Indian applicant.

4. A fixed percentage of contracts with the government is reserved for Malay-owned firms.

The list can go on and on. Don't take my word for it. Just go read or talk any non-Malay Malaysian on the street.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. There are racist elements in Malaysian society. However, it is clear to any external observer that the effect of racism in Malaysia appears to be less harsh than that of the racism in Singapore. Malays in Singapore are cluster towards the lower end of society, in terms of success. In Malaysia, the Chinese are not so impeded by the policies that they do not succeed. Malaysia is filled with successful, even very rich, Chinese people.

As a Chinese Singaporean, Fox, you are blind to the racist forces at work in Singapore. They are an abundance of racist policies, and unwritten rules that obstruct Malays in Singapore - and Indians, and whites, too, in certain areas.

If you wish to do really well in Singapore, the first thing you should ensure is that you are born Chinese. Any other race is at a disadvantage.

My remark is to direct the attention towards the effects of the racist policies in both countries. Malaysia would have to have much harsher racist policies to emulate the effects of Singapore's own discrimination towards its minorities...the results speak quite clearly, in both nations.

10:10 PM  

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