You are going to have to bear with me on this one. To the left is a picture of my two grandchildren, Samuel and Athena. Samuel will be four in a few days; Athena is one and a half. They are very cute. of course. All little kids are cute, especially if they are your grandchildren. But there is something intriguing about Samuel that reminds me very much of his uncle, my younger son Tobias, at that age. There is a grace and coherence about his body language that I find quite unusual. He also exhibits a reflectiveness that is quite definitely unusual for little kids. I think I have told this story before on my blog, but I will tell it again, for new readers. The last time I was in San Francisco, quite a long time ago, Samuel was just starting really to talk. Tobias was there, along with my sister, Barbara, and all the adults decided to go out to dinner. Samuel's father and mother, Patrick and Diana, called their usual baby-sitter, who showed up to look after the children while we went out. Samuel wanted to go as well, but was told that he would be staying at home with Russlee and Athena. Samuel stamped his foot and pouted, and plunked himself down on the sofa next to me, visibly miffed. Then, after thinking for a bit, he said, "Maybe someone will fix it." Now, I actually listen to what little children say, and that struck me as an extraordinary statement. Try to think your way into the mind of the three year old Samuel. There was something he wanted, which he was not going to get, and after thinking about that, it occurred to him that perhaps one of the grownups would fix this clearly unsatisfactory situation. That comment bespeaks a degree of thoughtfulness, a clear grasp of causal relations, that is quite unusual in a boy of that age.
Tobias, when he was Samuel's age, was a delightful little boy, but he also had a quality that the Romans called gravitas, which he still possesses, in a fully developed form. I hope I live long enough to see what sort of person Samuel turns out to be.