What version of Illustrator are you using? I was curious, so I just tested it out on version 2017 (the newest), and using the Direct Select Tool (hotkey ‘A’), I can click once on any node and drag it around without having to select the entire shape first. I suspect that what you’re doing is clicking in the center of the shape — ie the filled area. If you start with nothing selected, then press ‘A’ and hover the mouse over any of the nodes, you should be able to click once and begin dragging the node. If you click in the center/filled area of the shape, then you will have effectively selected the shape itself instead of the node. You can also just click and drag from an empty space to surround the node(s) you want to change. If you have a complex graphic, it might help to lock some of the shapes (control-2 or command-2 on Mac) before you begin selecting.
As I explained before, if you do not know how to use the tool, I suggest using the direct selection tool to find and select objects. I will show some examples of these in the following sections. Using the Direct Selection Tool to Select Objects Here's an example of how you can use the Direct Selection Tool to select various objects on a graphic you are working on: To use the Direct Selection Tool in this context, you must go to the Drawing palette (Shift-Escape on Mac), create a fill-around shape and then click outside the shape to begin selecting. When creating you fill-around, you will see how the shape looks like below. Clicking anywhere inside the shapes before you begin selecting will cause it to become highlighted. Once selected, the Direct Selection Tool allows you to change the direction and/or size of the selected object. Here is how you would change the.