Many adults can recall a certain childhood feeling that has now pretty much faded away. Unhappily, one of the things that fades away is a childlike feeling of security in the nest. It's a sense that you are loved, protected, and perfectly safe. It's a sense, above all, that somebody else is in charge. In properly functioning homes, children often have this feeling. Adults do not, and they miss it.

Years ago, on the old Candid Camera television program, a very large and dangerous-looking truck driver—a man of about 50—was asked in an interview what age he would be if he could be any age he wanted. There was a silence for a while as the trucker contemplated the question. What was he thinking? Was he hankering for age 65 and retirement so he could trade his Kenworth four-and-a-quarter semi down to a John Deere riding lawn mower? Or was he yearning for age 18 and the chance to go back and take some turn he had missed?

Finally he turned to the interviewer and said that if it was up to him he'd like to be three. Three? Why three? the interviewer wanted to know. "Well," said the trucker, "when you're three you don't have any responsibilities."

When I first heard the interview I thought this man was trying to be cute. I now think he said something wistful. What he knew was that when you are a child, and if your family is running the right way, your burdens are usually small. You can go to bed without worrying about ice backup under your shingles. You don't wonder if the tingling in your leg might be a symptom of some exotic nerve disease. You don't wrestle half the night with a tax deduction you claimed, wondering whether a federal investigator might find it a little too creative. No, you squirm deliciously in your bed, ...

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