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, May 28, 2010

Fintan and the bully.

Fintan has recently started a new school. He is enjoying it and is making lots of friends. However, not everyone wants to be his friend. A couple of days ago, he told us a little tale of life at school.

" a bully came up to me and kicked me in the leg, for no reason."

I found the way he told of the incident very informative. He seemed genuinely puzzled that anyone, that he had never harmed, should wish to harm him. He had not encountered this kind of behaviour before.

"How did you respond?", I enquired, gently, hoping for one particular answer.

"I pushed him down to the ground.", he said, his gaze falling inward, to remember the moment.

"That's good.", I approved, for it was the kind of answer that I had hoped for.

So, Fintan, at six, has encountered his first bully - and, I think, bested him. You see Fintan did what the research on the effects of bullying says a child should do: fight back. It is the biggest mistake in the world, to tell a child to "turn the other cheek". You see if a child lets the bully get away with bullying, that child will never learn to assert themselves, to stand up for themselves, to face difficulties - they will always be hiding from them, and running from them. Fintan did the right thing - even if, I am sure, he did it in his own mild, slightly puzzled way.

Interestingly, the research I read recently says that children who fight back, when faced with bullying grow up to be much more socially competent than children who just hold in their response, and simmer away in resentment at the way they are being treated. The child who fights back, is much the more emotionally mature child. No doubt, there are other benefits, too. Perhaps next time that particular bully thinks of having a go at Fintan, he will pause and reflect that, the first time he tried it, didn't work out too well - and then pass on, and leave Fintan in peace.

So, my advice to Fintan, and any other kid who is bullied is simple: meet every hostility, with one of your own. In time, those who are trying to bully you, will just back off and leave you alone - and go off to pick on easier targets.

(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 @ 8:07 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Interestingly, the research I read recently says that children who fight back, when faced with bullying grow up to be much more socially competent than children who just hold in their response, and simmer away in resentment at the way they are being treated."

That makes a lot of sense and I believe that this is true.

What would you suggest to adults who are being bullied by other adults? Fighting back (verbally but respectfully) doesn't always help. In fact it seems to make it worse.

Kind regards,

7:25 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

With an adult, bullying in the workplace, I would use recording/surveillance equipment to capture and document the behaviour. I would then invite the board of directors to fire the person. If they did not do so, I would mail the recorded material to all local and national media, with a note saying that the company approves and condones of such behaviour and has chosen inaction. I would include the names of the entire board of directors for the media to print.

If the bullying were particularly serious, I would see if it infringed any laws and look at possible suits/police action.

If the company fired you for standing up for yourself - especially if they fired you because the media ran the story, you would make more money in the subsequent law suit than you ever could in a lifetime.

In a word: if bullied fight back, using the system against the aggressor. Don't stop until you have destroyed their career. That should teach them.

The alternative is to let them destroy your self-esteem, confidence and ability to face the world. In the long run, if you don't fight back, they will destroy you as a person.

Good luck to all who are being bullied. Don't let them get away with it.

7:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to be bullied when I was a kid but whenever I fought back, I would be subjected to biased punishments. This was because the bully's Mum was a teacher in that school and in ********* there is not much meritocracy. Well, fighting back might not always be the best thing, especially if it is not done discreetly.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Ah. You faced a special circumstance: you were up against the school, itself, then, in the shape of the boy's mother. In your situation, your parents should have complained to the education authorities regarding the teacher and her son.

I am sorry to hear of your experience.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think the bully who kicked your son is an idiot. hehehe. i mean, who wants to fight with the big fellow? i was a big kid, and everyone who messed up with me, i'd fight back, and your son did the right thing. :)

4:35 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, I quite agree. Fintan is a very sturdy young I do puzzle that another child would want to start a fight with him: it seems a little self-destructive!

As you say, Fintan did the right thing: striking back makes it clear that messing with young Fin is not such a good idea...which, of course, reduces the number of times he is hassled.

Have you ever seen Fintan in person? I wonder because you seem to know just how big he is. He is pretty meaty for a six year old...and tall, too.

You did the right thing, too, in your childhood: give them what for!

Best wishes to you.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Ishy said...

I'm a new reader to your blog and I am SO glad to hear a parent not reprimand their child for standing up for themselves. Too many children are told to ignore it.

I would also like to thank you for blogging about your gifted family. My son spoke his first words at 3.5 months and now at 6 months he has a vocabulary of 7 confirmed words (by confirmed we know they have meaning and aren't just sounds). If it weren't for finding your blog I would have most likely continued treating him like a "normal" infant.
My son may not be as remarkable as yours, or some of the others I've read about on here, but I know he's not a typical 6 month old.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, Ishy, your son is most definitely not a normal six month old - in the best possible way. You have a gifted child and have many adventures ahead in raising him.

Ignore those who want your child to "dumb down" and "be like everyone else"...and let him be as he is and grow as he wishes. Freedom to be just who you are is very important.

I am glad you enjoy my blog. Before I started writing, there was relative silence on the net about what certain gifted children are like. There still is in some quarters. On many sites, parents of gifted children speak guardedly and use codenames for themselve and their family. It is sad. There is nothing to be ashamed of, if your child is gifted...but many people seem to think there is.

Good luck on raising your son, and facing an often incomprehending world.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Ishy said...

My previous post was the only time I have ever openly said Milo, my son, was atypical.
Once before I told someone about his language skills casually and she said I was lying to try to get attention.

My main reason for having such excitement for your posting is that it can be some what of a guide to raising Milo. I was gifted as a child as well, speaking 3 to 4 word sentences at 9 months, reading college text books in 1st grade, correcting my teacher's lesson plans and text books.
My mother thought that because I didn't need any help with my school work that I didn't need any help in any aspects of my life. Come middle school I was bored out of my mind. The classes were too simple and my class mates didn't like me because I was the "smart one".
All in all, I had no support and no guidance. Everyday I think of what could have come of my giftedness. I want Milo to grow up with everything he needs to be the best he can be in life.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

In some ways, the smarter the child, the more support they need. Just as it is so at the other end of the spectrum: the dimmer the child, the more support they need.

However, everyone thinks smart people need no support. That is why smart people are often given the hardest time, socially.

I can see the same biases in my own life: support withdrawn from the smart ones, and given to the dim ones. The smart ones suffer and the dim ones, well, remain dim. No-one wins in the end, because the smart ones never reach their potential, and the dim ones never had any (a bit politically incorrect, but unfortunately true). So, in the end, no-one wins out, which rather defeats the purpose of the whole exercise.

It sounds like you have made the right decisions about how to support your son. I am hopeful that it will out well for him, therefore, in the end. Everyone needs someone "rooting" for them.

Good luck - and thanks for sharing what must have been difficult to live with in silence, since Milo's birth.

Best wishes.

2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no, i haven't see Fintan, but i can 'see' him through your words.happy blogging :)

11:01 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you...and happy reading to you!

11:12 PM  

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