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 +

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Ainan's favourite colours.

As anyone who is a regular reader of my blog will know, Ainan has a particularly acute memory for detail – for anything really that captures his interest. Sometimes, this amuses me.

A few days ago, Ainan approached me in the kitchen, as I contemplated matters inaccessible to others, in one of my reveries.

“Daddy,” he began.

I fell out of my reverie and focussed my eyes on my curiously alert son.

“I have found my favourite colours...the perfect colours!”, he announced, in the manner of an explorer returning from a long voyage.

I waited for him to describe them to me. This he then did, in his own inimitable way.

“Blue: 0, 135, 189; Pale blue: 0, 189, 255; Yellow: 255, 211, 0 and Red: 196, 2, 51”.

He said this strangely uninformative string of information in a very rapid patter – it came out almost as one long number, with the names of the colours as a kind of punctuation.

I looked at him intently for a second before speaking.

“Are those RGB numbers?”, I asked, fairly certain of it.


“Can you show me what they look like?”

He did.

Now for those who don’t know, RGB is a colour coding system used on computers. So Ainan’s numbers were the colour codes for a particular colour displayed on a computer. What struck me about his utterance, was the speed with which he spoke, combined with the certainty with which he recalled the number codes. They seemed to be, to him, distinct objects in his mind, so tangible he could touch them with an inner thought. This was not a difficult task for him. He did it without even realizing that many people would not be able to do the same.

If you want to see his colours, go to a paint programme and check them in its colour palette. These are regarded by Ainan as ideal colours – all for reasons of his own, of course.

The other question this poses is: how long did it take him to find these “perfect colours”...out of all the millions of possibilities...and what made him remember them, when he did out of all the other number combinations he had tried?

It was very like Ainan not to try to describe the colours to me with words. He actually defined them as a computer would, or a scientist might, by giving them a precise definition and reference point. What he gave me was the actual colour – not a description of it. Yet, there was something missing in his description – any sense in me, of what the colour might be, without actually seeing it. However, Ainan achieved his aim, in communication: a precise definition of his thought – even if no-one else would be able to decode it without a computer to hand.

Not for the first time, I am led to wonder what Ainan will become, as he grows up. I hope I am around to see it – because that is something I would not miss. He still surprises me, and shows me new things about himself, even after all this time. In a way, I think he is a person that no-one will fully know – because there is so much to know about him. I have known him all his life – and yet it is still not enough to fully quantify and qualify, what is going on in his head. Yet, I shall try to know him as fully as I can and understand the curious person he is.

At least, now, I know what his favourite colours are – quite precisely!

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 3:16 PM 


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