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, May 25, 2010

The daredevil "spiderman" of the Cawleys.

Fintan is the kind of boy who surprises, not only by what he says, but by what he does. He surprises, because there is something in him that people overlook: they do not see the essence of the person, behind his friendly smile or his general sociability.

Last week, Fintan and his brothers, were climbing in a specially equipped climbing centre in Kuala Lumpur. This had several climbing walls and a giant boulder. On the walls, climbers were supposed to be tethered, since they were very high and a fall could easily result in serious injury. Yet, on the boulder - which was also pretty scarily high, if you ask me, people climbed untethered.

Fintan was climbing on the boulder. He was untethered and unaccompanied. However, his mother could see him from below. He was about five metres up, maybe more. He climbed with confidence and great certainty in his motions. Yet, he is only six years old. As she watched, Fintan did something unexpected. He leapt from one hold to another, propelling himself through space, five metres above the ground, to the next handhold, like some preternatural monkey. His aim was true and he grabbed onto the next hold, without incident. Down below, of course, his mother called up, in alarm and cautioned him. Fintan, heard, but carried on climbing, absolutely sure of what he was doing.

Many an eye watched Fintan as he climbed up the boulder, with fluid ease. He didn't only jump to his next hold, sometimes he swung himself from one hold to another, holding on with one hand as he did so. Again, he showed no fear, no worry at what he did: he just climbed on, with a joyful calmness. That cannot be said, of those who watched, below, however. I think many were worried that he might fall. He did, not, however.

This scene of a young boy showing casual courage, in an act of physical daring, is quintessentially Fintan. It makes me smile to think of it - but he showed a tendency to such courage very early on. Indeed, I have written, on this blog, of one instance, in which he wanted to fight a dog, who had scared his brother - he was only about three at the time. Now, at six, he still shows an innate bravery in how he conducts himself. Yet, I should point out, that his bravery is not without personal insight. He is brave on the rock, whilst climbing, largely because, I think, he knows what he can do. He is well co-ordinated. He is strong. He can hold his weight up, easily, on his fingers. His aim is sure. He just senses what he can do, without any real trouble. Yet, the fact that he is very high up, off the ground and any fall would lead to injury, doesn't bother him at all. He is very confident that he can handle the situation.

His courage whilst climbing is very noticeable, comparatively. Fintan, for instance, climbs to the top of the walls, he tasks himself with. Many climbers, young and old alike, "bottle out", when they realize how difficult it is, how high it is - and how scary it is, up there. Many adults quietly back out and climb back down, before reaching the top. Fintan, however, does not do that. He carries on up until he reaches the top of each challenge.

I am happy he has this quality. I only hope that he finds a meaningful purpose to bring this disposition to bear on. Courage, is OK, in itself - but courage should be deployed with a meaningful purpose. It is something which can be wasted on trivial pursuits that don't really make a difference in the world. That being said, I wouldn't like to see him put himself at undue risk. Whatever he does, I hope it is both meaningful and within the range of his competencies.

Happy climbing, Fintan!

(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

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

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:39 PM 


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