When I was a child growing up in a family where things were often dreadfully wrong and no one knew how to make them right, my siblings and I had to carry some pretty adult-sized burdens at far too young an age. In little ways, large parts of our childhood were stolen in order to help my mother keep my fathers impulsive decisions from capsizing our wobbly family boat in rough seas. He didnt mean to create such chaos, but he had the nature of one who grabbed for what he wanted when he wanted it, and the pieces were left for my mother and the children to pick up or put back together. One example of this phenomenon a relatively small blip on an already chaotic family radar screen is an era I have always spoken of, heavily punctuated with sighs, as The Horses! To make amends for actions that wounded my mother deeply, my father decided to buy a farm and move his city family to the country. We were children used to roaming the streets of our very safe neighborhood every summer or weekend day in bands of friends. We wandered from one home to another from breakfast until days end, inventing games or creative play. There were always adult eyes on us wherever we were. Often, we rode our bikes for milesfrom the near end of the neighborhood to its far reaches. It was a rare day when there wasnt a friend eager to play. Without consulting any of us, we were suddenly living on a country road, miles from our friends and our familiar places to ride, play, and explore. The nearest neighbors were a long walk through a hayfield. Their children were older and younger than we were, so we were not a fast or easy match as friends. Days that had been full of laughter and play were abruptly long and lonely times. We grieved most of the summer and looked to the new school year with dread. Friends, familiar from kindergarten on, would no longer be at school to greet us on the first day. For the first time, we would ride a bus rather than walk to school with our best buddies, sharing the excited first-day chatter of young children.