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 +

Friday, December 09, 2011

The discerning logic of a child.

Before I became a father, I was unaware of the wonderful, often deliriously enchanting logic, that children use. To be able to witness such logic, now, on a regular basis, is one of the more refreshing and rewarding aspects of fatherhood.

Today, Fintan, eight, made some remarks about food.

“Fish is seafood.”, he announced, to no surprise.

“Chicken is meat.”, he continued, again, in the same deliberate manner, with a slight air of puzzlement.

“...but birds are AIRFOOD.”, he concluded, with perfect logic.

I exploded with laughter. It was such an unexpected categorization – yet so apt, that I had no choice but to laugh. Why, I wondered, had no-one else, in all my life, so described birds? They WERE “Airfood”. Yet, no-one speaks of them as such.

The perfect, ineluctable logic of children, often leads us to understand the hidden truths in the world around us – the things which are always there, but which we are not able to see. One of them is “air food” is a thought that has been implicit in the structure of the English language, since the very first day someone described fish as “seafood”...but, until now, perhaps, no-one has ever said it. Fintan is the first, to my knowledge, to describe birds as “airfood”.

It is intriguing to observe that, although the logic is clear and implicit in the words and their relationship to each other, in English – that no-one actually uses the term “airfood”. This seems to suggest that we don’t, as a society, think too logically about what our language is suggesting. We don’t see what is implicit within it. Today, it took a young boy to see that logic and remark upon it. Fintan saw what no adult, to my knowledge ever did – the implicit categorization lying in wait in the language itself, waiting to be spoken.

Thank you Fintan, for your description. From now on, in our household, birds shall be known as “airfood” in honour of Fintan’s uncannily appropriate thought.

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 1:31 AM 


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