We have these peculiar notions of some sort of discreet borders between childhood and adulthood in terms of people’s perceptions and capacities.1 When it suits us, as adults, to think of children as endlessly resilient, then we declare that they’re resilient and they can cope with anything. And when it doesn’t suit us to think like that, we sort of focus on their fragility and their neediness, in the same way that when it suits us to somehow close our minds to just how kind of delicate their antennae are, and their radar for — particularly for trouble, we kind of inflict upon them stuff that they don’t — we don’t even realize that they’re taking onboard. I guess that I have always been interested in the way that kids can sort of smell trouble, like bad weather is coming. Kids who are used to violence, kids who are used to family dysfunction, they can feel it coming, and people who are habituated to it, might be imprinted in a way by it.2
So, having come from a functional, safe, loving, nurturing family and home, I guess I was — because my father was a cop, I was sort of conscious that my life was not the default setting of all kids.3 I guess I became at a certain point sort of aware and perhaps even hyper aware of the predicament that other people were in. And I guess I was always curious about the way they coped and didn’t cope with that.