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, October 17, 2011

The End of the Universe.

Yesterday, Tiarnan, five, asked an unsettling question of his mother.

"What happens after the end of the Universe?", he enquired, with a somewhat serious voice. It clearly bothered him.

Now, his mother, Syahidah is an artist, not a cosmologist, so she didn't really have any ready or satisfying answers. However, his question surprised her for another reason altogether: for she, too, had asked the very same question, as a child of much the same age as Tiarnan. It was almost as if the query was embedded in her DNA and passed on to him, marked "Unanswered concern", for the next generation to solve.

The big question here is why does a five year old ask such a question? We have no TV in the house, only DVDs. He has not been exposed to any programmes on cosmology or astronomy. This question emerges from his own thought, therefore. He has clearly looked at the world and come to the conclusion that, one day, it would end. Then, having so concluded that even the Universe must die one day, he asked the next question: what would follow the death of the Universe?

These seem rather deep and troubling questions for a mere five year old to be asking. At times, it seems that the littlest people have the biggest thoughts, because they trouble themselves to ask the questions, that adults have long ago stopped thinking about. Perhaps it is because children are inexperienced enough to think that, by asking such questions, they might readily find answers, whereas adults develop an instinct for identifying questions that are, to them, unanswerable and so don't even ask them in the first place. All in all, it makes young children, sometimes, more interesting company, than adults - for they have tendency to ask questions that adults would not. Sometimes, even more interestingly, they answer them.

I shall have a chat with Tiarnan about the Universe and try to give him some understanding of the scale of it, the age of it and how much time there is yet to come. I have a feeling though that even these vast spans of time, will not reassure him about his essential point: the Universe, like all that lives, is mortal.

It seems that Tiarnan is not just concerned with death, but with the biggest Death of all - the end of everything. What a big concern, for so little a boy. I am led to wonder if he is going to make a lifelong habit of such questions. I wonder, further, whether he will make a career of answering them.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:00 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Tiarnan being the youngest in the family has definitely benefited him. Having two older brothers and his parents who also, by what you write, seem to ask interesting questions, likely leads him on to more critical thinking than the average five year old. Has he ever expressed an interest in being a scientist? Because he, like Fintan and Ainan, seems to have qualities similar to that of a scientist.

6:25 AM  
Blogger Pamella Pc said...

To Sir Cawley,
First of all, I would like to ask an apologize from you for the misunderstanding that i made in the previous comment about your son's gender. I am really sorry for that.
Actually, I need your local(Malaysia) number so that I can make a phone call to discuss on the matter of our meeting with Ainan. I hope you can send your number to my e-mail address: as soon as possible.
Sir Cawley,
Thank you so much for your cooperation and may god bless you always!

3:42 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Dear Pamella,

I have already written to you at your email address and requested that you send your questions via email. That would be best for us.

I am a bit too busy in the next couple of months to take phone calls on the matter.

Thank you.

1:39 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. Tiarnan is embedded in a pretty unusual childhood environment, formed by his two elder brothers - each interesting in their disparate ways - and his own not particularly typical parents.

To answer your question, I think Tiarnan could very well become a scientist. However, he is already showing a broadranging mind with nascent gifts in art, writing, acting and science. I think that, of all my children, he may turn out to be the most versatile. He is a complex little boy, with many facets.

Yes. You are right. All my children, have the basic mental equipment of a scientist of some kind...they are each thinkers and observers and experimenters. We shall see which of them pursue this temperament where it usually leads.

Thanks for your comment.

1:44 PM  

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