On my block, there are two little boys, each just a little more than a year old. Their parents are good friends. As 14-month-olds do, they often play in parallel to one another. Most of their personal interactions feature swats, swipes, grabs, and plaintive cries of “mine.” There aren’t a lot of smiles between the two boys when they’re playing; each seems to experience the other as, at best, a nuisance. They resist seeing one another, sometimes with quite ferocious tantrums (tantra?).
One of the boys – call him Ryan – was away for the summer. The other – call him Toby – was home. Ryan’s parents reported, baffled, that while they were away, Ryan asked repeatedly for Toby. “It makes no sense,” Ryan’s Dad said to me. “He hates Toby.” He said this almost in a whisper, as if truly ashamed of it.
But it makes sense to me: Ryan understands Toby to be part of his life, and he perceived Toby’s absence as a loss (even if outward appearances would have suggested it should be a welcome loss).