If we are lucky enough, as I am, to be from time to time in quite close contact with young people, they can sometimes make it easier to hang on to this notion when they function, as every person does vis-a-vis every other person they come up against, as a mirror. Always we are being reflected in the eyes of others. Are we silly or sensible, stupid or clever, bad or good, unattractive or sexy...? We never stop being at least slightly aware of, if not actively searching for, answers to such questions, and are either deflated or elated, in extreme cases ruined or saved, by what we get. So if when you are old a beloved child happens to look at you as if he or she thinks (even if mistakenly!) that you are wise and kind: what a blessing! It's not that such a fleeting glimpse of yourself can convert you into wiseness and kindness in any enduring way; more like a good session of reflexology which, although it can cure nothing, does make you feel like a better person while it's going on and for an hour or two afterwards, and even that is well worth having. The more frequent such shots of self-esteem are, the more valuable they become, so there is a risk - remote, but possible - of their becoming addictive. An old person who doesn't enjoy having young people in her life must be a curmudgeon, but it is extremely important that she should remember that risk and watch her step. Or he, his.