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 +

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The perspective of youth.

A couple of weeks ago, Ainan was talking about cars, to me.

He looked over at me, with an opaque expression, one that seemed to blend puzzlement, intrigue and intense interest, with a dash of amusement.

"The Ferrari F360, looks like quite a modern car, Daddy," he had enough of the suitably impressed about him, to convey that understanding, "but it is SO old..."

He was being rather emphatic about its age, so I focussed more intently, upon him.

"about the year 2000, or so.", he concluded, unexpectedly.

That startled me. So, the year 2000 was "so old"?

"That is not old, least not for me. That is quite recent."

He smiled a little, seemingly both understanding my own, ancient perspective, and disagreeing from his.

This observation of his, though, led me to wonder how he sees the world - and, perhaps, how all the very young see the world. For them, very recent events, might be judged to be ancient history. For them, what is for us, a mere recollection away, seems like something out of the history books.

Ten year old Ainan, of course sees something that is ten years old, as very old indeed. The world, at his scale is measured in ten year blocks - one such block being an entire lifetime. So, of course, for him, a ten year old car, seems an old thing indeed.

Ainan is so intelligent and wise in many ways, that it is easy to forget how young he is and how foreshortened his view of the world and history is, thereby. He may have the understanding of someone far older, but he still has the personal timescale of a young child - which is, of course, understandable, since we all measure the world by our experience of it and he had, at the time of speaking, ten years experience of it.

I questioned him again, today about his observation of the Ferrari F360 and said, once more that that did not seem old to me. He then modified his assessement: "Mediumish old", he said, then added: "Ten years is quite old for a car to still exist."

Indeed, he is right. Many cars don't last long and are on the scrap heap long before ten years have passed. The taxi I most often take (we know the driver) is three years old - but it looks more like thirty years, so worn does it seem, in its own way. Many taxis here, are like that: the cars just kind of fall apart after a few years. (Though this might have something to do with local design and engineering issues...deliberate obsolescence no doubt being part of their business plan).

I must admit, though, Ainan's remark did make me feel old, suddenly. A young person, you see, thinks that young things are old. I don't. I must, therefore, be old, myself. I have a perspective built of longer durations...thus the way I see the world is a product of how long I have lived in it. A decade is not so long for me, since I have seen four of them completed. For Ainan, a decade is a whole lifetime.

At the same time, I wonder how ten years have passed so quickly that I barely noticed them - and in that time, three sons have sprouted up. It is quite amazing, in a sort of horrifying-isn't-life-short kind of way. My eldest son is halfway to adulthood...more than halfway - and yet, in some ways, I have barely had time to become accustomed to him as a child.

When Ainan is my age, now, I shall be an old man (if I am alive, of course). I plan to ask him, then, whether he thinks a ten year old car, is "old". Of course, there may not even be cars by then...but the point remains the same. It will be interesting to see whether his perspective matches my own, then. We shall see.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 7 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.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:27 PM 


Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Safireau,

I can't publish your comment as you request, because blogger gives no facility to edit it before publishing, as you have indicated you would like. I can only therefore publish it uncut, which you would not like...or not publish it at all. Similarly, I cannot edit your existing comments without completely removing them, which would be a loss.


However, welcome back and I look forward to your future comments.

9:37 AM  
Blogger agas said...

Hi mr cawley, gud day :) This conversation reminds me on my child hood time. I think I was around 9 or 10 in that time (early of 90's). I told my mum why the old car (year of 80's)design was so ugly? couldn't u guys see how ugly it is?LOLOL. My mum got mad & she said "there is no such new things if the old things were not there".

Her answer still not satisfied me. But I kept silent cuz I sort of lazy to argue with her & besides, it's a rude to argue with the old folks (Malay custom).

Thanks for this nice post. You made me smile!

11:45 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I am glad, Agas, that my post took you back to your own childhood. People too little reflect on their earlier days, I feel, given their preoccupation with the it is good to reminisce.

In a way, I am learning more about myself and my own childhood, by observing my children, than I ever did by living it in the first place!

Best wishes.

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah well. That's okay, then.

7:18 AM  

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