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 +

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

A child who asks deep questions.

Tiarnan is six years old. Normally, one has certain expectations of what being six years old entails. Tiarnan, however, in some ways, is busily ignoring these expectations.

Last night, as I was trying to settle him down to sleep. He suddenly perked up and looked at me, as if I might be able to provide the solution to something that was bothering him.

“Is life about a dream?”

I paused, in a little surprise at his question. He had a little smile on his face, as if he had had certain beliefs about my response. Before I could formulate a response, he launched another unexpected question at me:

“Why is real life real?”

This time there was no smile. He was very serious about it.

“What do you mean?”, I prompted, not fully understanding where his question was reaching, at first.

“How come I exist?”, he continued, as if this question explained the last.

“Mummy and Daddy made you.”

He smiled at that – as if he didn’t quite believe that was all there was to it.

“I know. The fat guy did it.”

“The fat guy? You mean God?”

He just smiled an answer and looked away at his thoughts.

I settled him down for the night. This was not the first time Tiarnan had asked such deep questions, but each time he did so, he managed to floor me – for they never seemed likely to come out of the mouth of such a small boy. Clearly, he had big thoughts, for one so small.

Tiarnan is but beginning his life – but he is already considering the meaning of life, its essence, purpose and origin. He is not satisfied to just exist – he is questioning how that existence came about – and, as he had made clear, he is not satisfied with the answers his environment (school and home) has been providing him. He is not sure whether to believe the answers he is told. Somehow he feels they miss something out. Of course, he is right...all the answers are far too simple to explain the complexities and subtleties of his questions. Perhaps I should have a conversation with him about evolution, for instance – and the origin of life.

I think, sometimes, society underestimates little children. Some people have the tendency to think such children don’t have meaningful thoughts. This is a mistake. Some little kids are busy thinking very big thoughts indeed. We do them no credit to ignore this possibility.

Thank you, Tiarnan for sharing your thoughts with me. They are always refreshing to hear. I hope I never cease to be surprised by them. 

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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