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 +

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Empathy in young children

About two weeks ago, Tiarnan, six, was out shopping with his mother, Syahidah, in Kuala Lumpur. Suddenly, he tugged at his mother’s arm.

“Mummy,” he began, with concern in his voice, “It is so sad!” He pointed at a young boy walking down the road, unaccompanied. “Some children don’t have parents!”

Syahidah looked at the little boy on his own. He was about seven years old, perhaps, maybe eight. He was walking down the main shopping High Street, without an adult in sight.

“No, Tiarnan.”, she reassured, kneeling down to him, “I am sure he has parents. Maybe he is going to see them now, in one of the shops.”

Tiarnan looked long at the little boy walking off on his own and wasn’t so sure. He seemed a little heartened, though, to feel that, perhaps, his mummy was right.

Both my wife and I thought this a very sweet indicator of the kinds of thoughts and feelings Tiarnan has. He was actually sad, for a strange boy, he had never met, because he understood him to lack parents. He felt for another, in this world. That is sweet, in itself. Yet, we are well aware of how this perspective has come about. You see, Tiarnan in all his six years, has never been left alone in public, without one or both of his parents being present. So, his remark is a consequence of how we have raised him. We have never exposed him to any risk in public. In a way he had a point: where were the parents of that boy? He really shouldn’t have been left alone. We wouldn’t leave any of our own children why had his parents?

Perhaps Tiarnan was not so wrong in his perceptions, since that boy’s parents, if not non-existent, were certainly less present than his own parents are, always. We wouldn’t take such risks with our kids, ourselves.
Anyway, it was sweet to hear Tiarnan care so much for another child. It is a sign that he, himself, is likely to grow up into a warm and caring individual...and that is certainly a good outcome, for any wise parent.

Thank you Tiarnan, for your empathetic feeling.

A cultural note: there is quite a lot of crime in KL. There was a recent high profile case of the kidnapping of a 12 year old expat boy, in a wealthy area of KL. I would have expected, therefore, that parents would exercise more caution with the safety of their children, in public, than the parents of the boy Tiarnan saw, were doing. 

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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