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 +

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The trouble with woad.

Woad is a blue dye made from a plant, Isatis tinctoria. In ancient times, a tribe living in Britain, were called the "Picts" by the Romans, because "Pict" (Picti) meant "painted ones". The Picts were noted for their woad painted blue faces.

Yesterday, Tiarnan, four, was watching a film set in Roman Britain, in which a group of Picts were chasing a splinter of a Roman least, that is what I thought they were, in my glimpse of the film...through some woods. The Romans had lost many of their men and were running scared, from a numerically superior and, it seemed, tactically superior group of Picts. Whether this was historically accurate or not, is another matter.

The screen showed a scene in which all the Picts got together and painted their faces with blue woad dye, in various patterns. Tiarnan watched attentively.

Later on that day, the Picts caught up with the Romans, who were backed against a cliff fall into a passing river. Having no alternative, the Romans jumped down into the rapids below, even though the cliff was very high, indeed, and the fall was likely to injure or kill them. The Picts, however, thought better of this idea, and stood in frustration at the top, watching the Romans getting washed away downstream.

Tiarnan looked at their frustrated blue faces and opined:

"They don't want to jump, because they don't want to wash their make up off!"

You see, that is the trouble with woad, it just gets in the way of one's daily warrior hunting. Tiarnan had found the Picts' Achilles heel: they just loved being pretty too much!

I love the way my children see the world. There is always reason in their statements, even if those reasons are missing parts of a full knowledge of the world. Indeed, that is the charm of their observations: that they have about them, an uncanny sense, that may not actually be sense, from an adult perspective. Yet, it is a kind of sense all the same.

Tiarnan was left in no doubt, however, about how I thought of his observation, for I could not stop myself laughing out loud, in a great bellow of ongoing mirth. I was too busy laughing to look at his reaction, though I wish I had.

He didn't say anything more about the Pict's "make up".

(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: 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.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 5:02 PM 


Blogger Casandra Ramirez said...

That was so cute!

Tiarnan's sweet words just made my day :D

6:20 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. Very cute, thanks.

1:02 AM  

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