My Life As a Child



7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26

While this six-part documentary series sometimes takes aim at the heartstrings a bit too earnestly, you have to be an insensitive oaf cut off completely from your feelings to not be hugely moved by the kids we see and hear in "My Life as a Child."

The idea here finds TLC documenting the lives of 20 children ages 7-12 by having them capturing their own individual perspectives over the course of four months, with them and their families submitting the resultant videos. More than 400 kids responded. The network used 20 of them to form the series that is boiled down into thematic headings such as "Hopes and Hurdles" (the first) and "Different From You" (the third). As such, these are not the chronicles of average kids, per se, so much as those precocious and outgoing enough to come alive on camera.

That all said, the three boys we meet in the opening stanza will straight away turn you to emotional mush. Joshua is 7, black, lives in a tough part of Baltimore, rarely sees his dad, has to split time between his mom and grandmother (to his great chagrin) and wears his feelings proudly. Says he, "My father is missing out on a great kid." He's right. Cole is 8, lives in Los Angeles and needs a wheelchair to get around because of cerebral palsy. But he takes karate, and his spirit is infectious. Marc is 7 and a piano virtuoso from Monterey Park, Calif., who practices his instrument six to eight hours a day. He's jazzed to be on the road to concert greatness but fears he's way out of step with his peers. Indeed, few of them would be in-spired to say, "I want to make every note so that it hurts because it's so wonderful."

"My Life as a Child" poignantly illustrates that today's youths are growing up faster than ever before, leaving us uncertain whether to laugh or cry. In the end, we do a little bit of both.