K ids can’t always articulate what they feel or understand about the world around them, but they’re not dumb. And they can tell when they’re not liked, particularly if it’s a grown-up…

I feel kind of sorry for the kid I was who understood on a level I was unable to express that my grandmother didn’t like me. She was a survivor, had lost her husband (my zeidy) long before I was born and lived alone in a house not far from ours. She had two children — my mother and my uncle Menachem who also lived close by. I was the oldest in my family and Reva was the oldest of Uncle Menachem’s kids.

Reva and I were good friends; we were in the same class and shared many of the same friends. We were always in and out of each other’s houses, often did homework together and enjoyed sharing the same family simchahs. But one thing always stung — while my bubby was cold (and sometimes really mean) to me and my siblings, she seemed to adore Reva and her siblings, which only made me feel worse. It would have been easy to comfort myself with, “she’s been through a lot, don’t worry about it,” but when I saw how loving she was with Reva, I just felt cold and rejected.

One day, I called Reva to invite her to sleep over but my aunt Nechama said she was sleeping at Bubby’s house. I felt a little awkward — I had never slept at Bubby’s house before — so I just said okay and hung up. I guess Aunt Nechama told Reva I’d called, because within ten minutes Reva called and said she’d spoken to Bubby and I could sleep there, too.

I felt shy but tentatively hopeful. Maybe Bubby liked me after all!

My father dropped me off and I shyly came to the door. Reva and I played a game while Bubby made us some hot chocolate, and all I can remember is how accepted I felt. Soon after that, we changed into pajamas and Bubby told us about the sleeping arrangements. There was a spare bed in her room that Reva would sleep in, while I’d be on the couch. I looked at the dark window from the living room and watched the shapes from the trees creaking around in the wind and, pretending to be more scared than I was, said, “Oh, please Bubby, can I sleep in your room too? I’m scared a robber will come and take me!” And Bubby said, “Wouldn’t that be great?!” and shared a laugh with Reva.

I was devastated. I got settled on the couch, turned out the light, and felt the tears rolling down my cheeks. I wasn’t scared. I just felt the pain of being unwanted and the shame of being laughed at.

I’d seen some of my friends with their bubbies and knew that what I had to contend with was unusual. Most bubbies seemed to adore their grandchildren. It hurt. (Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 671)