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 +

Monday, January 24, 2011

Wondering at the adult world.

Tiarnan wonders at the ways of adults. To him, they, at times, seem arbitrary and somewhat bizarre – for they seem to have no reason to them. The answer, of course, is that perhaps they don’t.

A week or two ago, when Tiarnan was still four, he came to his mummy, with a puzzled little face.

“Why,” he began, in his very small but proper voice, “do people shake their heads, like this,” he shook his head horizontally, from side to side, “to say no, and like this,” he nodded his head up and down, “to say yes?”

His mother, who was usually very good at such things, had no answer for him. She realized, in the moment of asking, that he had a point: these gestures seemed to be arbitrary, with no real reason for their being. No doubt, there was a historical tale as to why they were the way they were…but she didn’t know it.

Tiarnan didn’t let her dwell long, before making a further enquiry.

“Will people die by breaking their necks, if they keep on saying no?”

He demonstrated, by moving his head from side to side.

She gave him a smile and a hug, suppressing her laughter, for the sake of his serious demeanour.

It was clear what Tiarnan meant. He realized that, mechanically speaking, the human neck had rotational limits from left to right – and that pushing those limits would result in a broken neck. So, again, he had a point, even if a rather bizarre one. It is a wonder what fears fill his four year old head, that he should imagine fatalities in simply saying no. Yet, his fears derive from a consideration of the ways of the adult world and his attempt to understand them. So, I suppose that, ultimately, the adult world is to blame for his little worries. Together, we have created an arbitrary set of rules and behaviours that new little children have to strive to understand. Tiarnan, in his clear sighted way, has made me see the accidental nature of our behavioural customs. The fact that he had to question the reason behind these customary gestures is enough to make it understood that there is no obvious reason for them. Thus it is, yet again, that the child teaches the adults, how to see the world. My children often do that, for they see truly what is and not what they have come to understand things to be. Too often, I think, in our world, the views of children are dismissed as being “uninformed” or “naïve” – yet it is precisely that lack of prior knowledge and newness to experience, that makes it more likely that they will see things as they truly are, and not as they are expected to be or understood to be, by convention.

Perhaps, it is the littlest “men” who are the wisest, after all, for they see what is and not what should be.

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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 @ 9:17 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello again Valentine.

As I said earlier, I am interested in gifted children, and lately I have been wondering what traits a gifted child may possess? Do you know of any? Thanks in advance!

9:08 AM  
Blogger E. Harris said...

In Greece they do a sort of nod to say "no". (Really more like a chin-thrust, usually accompanied by an annoying tongue-click.) The Greek word for "yes" is "ne". (Their word for "no" is pronounced "O-hee".)

10:51 PM  

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