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, January 22, 2011

Intelligence in a rabbit.

Yes. That title is “for real”.

Tiarnan’s 5th birthday was on Thursday. He requested two gifts, in particular: Little Big Planet 2, a PS3 game and a baby rabbit. His rabbit was most prompt, arriving, in secret, the day before, and being hidden away in an unfrequented part of the house, so that Tiarnan wouldn’t see it.

On his birthday morning, we led Tiarnan to the cage, where his bunny looked out inquisitively on the world. Tiarnan’s delighted grin was something to behold. He was quite overcome with the sweetness of his new pet. That morning, something strange happened: none of my three sons wanted to play with the PS3 – all of them clustered around the rabbit, playing with it, stroking it, feeding it, chasing it about and generally have a great time becoming acquainted with the newest member of the household.

Ainan was the one who noticed the rabbit’s interesting behaviour. Mochi, as the rabbit is known, by some, conceived a plan of escape from his cage. She quite clearly seemed to think that if only she could stretch high enough, she would be able to climb out of the top of the cage. So, that is what she did. She leant up against the wall of the cage, with her front paws and stretched upwards, seeking a way out. It didn’t work. She couldn’t stretch high enough. Then, she did something most surprising. She hopped over to the dish in which her feed had been placed and climbed up into it. You see, the dish is raised above the level of the rest of the cage. Then she tried stretching again, her paws against the side of the cage, to see if she could reach up and out of the cage. However, again, she was too short and her plan failed.

Ainan was most impressed by this, for though Mochi is but a baby rabbit, quite clearly she was doing some thinking. She had conceived a plan, had an idea and understanding of her world – and had tried it out. So, though most unexpected though it is to see any kind of intelligence in a rabbit, quite clearly they are not as dumb as most people think. Beneath that cute exterior there is, at least, some rudimentary thinking going on.

Mochi has been most entertaining for the boys these past couple of days. The morning now, has become a ritual greeting time, for the boys to sit down and play with their rabbit. On her part, Mochi insists on being entertaining and being quite capable of surprising or funny actions. We tried, for instance, to put a harness on her. However, her response, was to run away as fast as possible, straining against the harness, until it slipped over her and set her free. So, that escape plan worked at least.

For me, the most warming part of all of this, is to see that the boys prefer to play with a baby rabbit than their PS3. Maybe modern electronic toys are not as all consuming as most people think. Maybe it is just that kids are not often given more attractive alternatives. Our sons, at least, prefer cuddly biology, to blaring electronics. It is a good discovery to make.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:38 PM 


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