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A hope note

James Anthony, at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, conducted a study of ‘superkids’ ‘ kids who adapt to terrible circumstances with extraordinary coping skills and overcome.
One family he studied featured a schizophrenic mother who believed someone was poisoning their food. Her 12-year-old shared the mother’s fears and would eat only restaurant food. The middle child, age 10, would eat at home but only when her father was there. The seven-year-old ate at home every day, explaining, ‘Well, I ain’t dead yet!’
Anthony explained that children are like dolls. One is made of glass, another of plastic, another of steel. Hit by a hammer, the first one breaks, the second gets a dent and the third gives off a fine, metallic sound.
My reigning superkid poster child is Jeannette Walls. She is a successful writer, author of a bestseller, ‘The Glass Castle.’ She lived her childhood in cardboard boxes, broken cars and abandoned houses, driven from pillar to post with her eccentric parents.
One day, in the Mojave desert, her mother pointed out to Jeannette a scraggly, freakish Joshua tree that had been so whipped by the wind over centuries that it existed in a permanent state of windblownness (like Jeannette and her family).
Months later, Jeannette saw a little Joshua tree sapling growing close to the old tree. She told her mother that she wanted to dig it up and replant it near the two-room house they were renting, promising to water it and care for it every day so it could grow straight and tall.
Her mother frowned and said, ‘You would destroy what makes it special. It’s the Joshua tree’s struggle that gives it its beauty.’
And so it is.