The Good Fight
It's hard being a kid. You struggle to learn to stand up, falling down over and over. And once you've finally got it, you try to walk—and you fall down again. You can't stop your parents from sticking you in your stroller when you want to be held or snatching you up when you want to run (although a loud explosion of rage or grief sometimes helps). As you grow up you conquer more tasks and gain more power, but you're also hit with new frustrations. You watch adults breeze through tasks with the greatest of ease, but when you try them yourself, they turn into disasters. Your parents make doors fly open by touching doorknobs that you can't reach, and then when you're finally big enough to grab one, you discover that making it work is a maddening puzzle.
Of all the challenges children face, one of the biggest is their own powerlessness. Some children face especially painful challenges: the loss of a parent, abuse, neglect, hostile schoolmates, illness, poverty, neighborhood violence. But even the best protected children, with the most supportive parents, have to wrestle every day with reminders of how small and powerless they still are. Once when Nicky was three, we took him to a park where cattails grew around a picnic table. He was running around the table, waving a cattail in his hand, laughing in joy, when suddenly his little feet turned slightly inward— and before we could grab him he'd hit the corner of the table, full