Usually people freak out about the early childhood bit, my friend the biologist tells me. That and the stuff about the pre-natal experiences. Quite understandable don't you think? After all, we are grown ups who make important decisions every day and now you are telling me about unconscious memories.
What we don't understand - and therefore ignore - is the bit about the genes and that we inherit them. Well, we automatically think, we inherit characteristics from our parents and on a bad day, we obviously think about all their bad ones.
No, this is what you must do: Imagine your parents' genes as two long necklaces of pearls, many many tiny pearls, each one a different colour and a different shape. And you get to have all of these pearls but on a new string, in a unique and completely new pattern.
This is the really mysterious bit, don't you think?
I nod and get up to make some more coffee. We sit in the sun and talk about our children and pets and the summer almost gone and I forget to ask about how this is actually researched. I have read about three dimensional MRI and computer models and of course, I don't understand a thing.
I remember watching my sleeping baby daughter, turning her this way and that, half closing my eyes, trying to imagine what she may look like in five or ten or twenty years. And of course, she is a complete and authentic and unique person despite the odd resemblances here and there, her grandfather's love of gardening and her granny's curls and her/my stubborn habit of wanting to have the last word and R's patience and cool and so on.
And yet, as I was stacking the dishwasher after dinner tonight I saw that look in R's eyes, the one that tells me that the moment I turn my back, he will rearrange the lot. He's got that from his father.