When I was just two years old, my dad was still in the Navy, so we were living on the other side of the country from all our family. My mom had started working part-time, so one day she had to leave me with friends my very young parents had made recently while she went to work. I don’t remember ever having met these particular friends prior to that, or even seeing them after that day; but even decades later, I still remember vividly how traumatized I was by being left with total strangers.

At first it was just a play date. The Friends had two daughters, both older than I and already in school, who were excited to have the responsibility of making the…