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, June 18, 2011

A superhero, on his off-day.

A few weeks ago, Tiarnan, five and Fintan, seven, were having a play acted "fight".

Now, as long term readers will know, Tiarnan is one of the world's youngest "superheroes". He has a liking for imagining himself as some kind of super powered hero and can quite often be found, in his own world, happily playing out some imaginary scenario. Such is his imagination, that he is quite capable of playing out such a scene, alone, accompanied only by his own imaginary adversaries.

On this particular day, he was having a battle with Fintan. To judge the situation, there is something you should know about Fintan: he is very strong for his age, and quite big, too. He is also dextrous, fast, and athletic to the point of being gymnastic. In other words, "fighting" him, is not a good prospect, if you are also a kid.

Tiarnan did his best. He engaged Fintan with absolute passion, focus, intensity and determination. Each "blow" was delivered with vigour and a certain style. Not only had Tiarnan's effort needed to be maximal, but each movement had to have a certain elegance and panache about it. With Tiarnan, the result had to be beautiful to watch, too.

Fintan defended himself, with relative ease. He also counter attacked in a less deliberately stylish manner, which managed to impress nevertheless. There was something masterful about his movements - and Tiarnan was simply unable to best him.

Tiarnan continued to strive his best to win this battle of the mini-Titans. However, he seemed to be becoming aware of the mismatch. This was inconvenient for his superhero self-image, since it was quite impossible for superhero Tiarnan to be beaten by a mere mortal older brother.

He had an explanation and solution, however.

"My powers," he began to announce, most intently, "only work, when I use them."

This declaration was meant, not only for Fintan, who didn't trouble himself to respond - but for his mother who was watching.

Fintan went on to win the encounter, pretty conclusively - but Tiarnan was not disheartened. He had, after all, and rather gentlemanly, elected not to use his powers - so the defeat was actually a demonstration of magnanimous nature.

The play fight came to an end happily. Neither was hurt physically, or psychologically - and both egos remained intact: Fintan's because he had won, Tiarnan's because, of course, he had only let him win!

There is something appealing in Tiarnan's rationalization of his physical power in relation to Fintan. It is actually quite beautiful to see him conceive this excuse and understanding - and to hold on to it, to the extent of seeming to believe in it, at least emotionally. His is the perfect way of seeing the world if you are a small boy - as he is - who wants to feel powerful - as he does.

In Tiarnan's world, he is powerful - and, in a way, he is: for his imagination is such that he is quite able to convince himself that he is such.

I, for one, watching him play, am quite prepared to accept him on his own terms - for he is so intent about it, that to do so, is the only reasonable and fair response.

So, Tiarnan is the superhero of the house, who is so considerate of his brothers that he refrains from using his powers against them. They, in turn, refrain from pointing out that he doesn't have any. It is the ideal arrangement.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 2:06 AM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is really sweet. Your story made me smile. :-)

You often tell of moments that took place in the immediate past. How do you remember them all? Do you make notes on the day and then write them down when you have time? Or do you suddenly think of something and then write it down immediately? Or do you take a completely different approach?

5:49 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Laktosefrei,

Sorry it has taken a while to post your comment...I have been busy.

I use a variety of methods to keep track of the past: some I just remember, they pop into my head and then I invite myself to recall it later to write down; some I write down at the time of their occurrence, because they are just too special to risk being lost. Occasionally I find myself in reverie, recalling something long forgotten: these I tend to write up that very day.

Thank you for your kind words. I am trying to capture characteristic moments of their childhoods. One day, I will be able to show my children how they were. That will be special to them, I hope.

Best wishes

12:05 AM  

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