On Imaginary Friends

When I was a girl, my younger cousin had two imaginary friends, named Pacoo and Pessey. These friends would appear at different times and places on the whims and needs of my cousin. Once, she was in the seat on the back of my aunt’s bicycle as we rode through the neighborhood, and she told me they were riding with us. They lived in the Aloe Vera plant on Annie’s patio, if I remember correctly.

At the time, being 5 or so years older than her, I thought this was very cute, but I had never had an imaginary friend. I remember overhearing a conversation that “imaginary friends” were unhealthy and due to my cousin being an only child. Hmmmm. Funny what you internalize as a child. A simple overheard telephone call can color your perceptions and be recalled 28 years later…

This memory percolated to the surface when my boys both came up with imaginary friends. My knee-jerk reaction was to dismiss them, but I caught myself, and tried to figure out my feelings, and decided instead to play along. “Monster” and “Little Dude” have turned out to be quite the imaginary outlet for my sons- doing things, going places and having adventures my boys cannot yet accomplish, but have the will and desire for, nonetheless.

Monster and Little Dude can change size, shape and color. They can move at the speed of a super jet, or creep along the floor, as needed. They drive race cars, scale mountains and both of them can fly. The friends will eat foods the boys don’t want to try, are not afraid of the dark (or monsters), and can outrun scary things. In short, they’re acting as emotional buffers for two little boys.

Childhood is so very short. Someday, probably sooner than later for Jeffrey, Monster and Little Dude will fall by the wayside- like so much of childhood. Beliefs and imaginings act as a chrysalis to protect the burgeoning butterfly, and like the chrysalis, are left behind when the butterfly takes to the sky. 

11 thoughts on “On Imaginary Friends

  1. Sounds wonderful! For a couple of years, my (now) 5-year-old had “Larry”. Larry lived in the dog kennel in our yard — it was “Larry’s house”. I understood her need: all her siblings were in school, and she suddenly found herself lonely.

    But the day I got the instructions as we were driving home that “Larry knows where we are going, Mom; he’s in front of the car, just follow him!” I think I was at my wit’s end!

    We never encouraged or discouraged Larry, and I wonder sometimes where he wandered off to…
    :) (Thanks for making me remember this little tidbit!)

  2. I clearly remember being 3 years old and sensing the presence of my invisible friend I named ‘battery’. Battery was only around for a few months then was gone. Conveniently, battery was AA sized and easily tagged along in the car or under the bed or wherever.

  3. My youngest, Elijah, had a few imaginary friends—named Elijah 2 and Elijah 3. The best, though, was his imaginary dad, which he called his New Dad. Drove his real dad nuts. “OH yeah? Well my NEW DAD can do anything! He’s taller than 100 buildings! He can fly! AND he’s a robot!”

  4. Lauren has9 imaginary sisters. They all have names and personalities and she can keep track of them. So far they are just a fun addition to our family but I imagine that sometime soon they will be replaced with other things…like Barbies and REAL sisters.

    Cute memories

  5. My imaginary friend’s name was Zachary and he lived in the toaster. All I remember about him is that we played tether ball together. Maybe I was having trouble making friends on the play ground or something…but I do remember that he came home with me and he was around for awhile. Actually…this is strange, but I have this memory of being in your mom’s kitchen and Zachary was there too. Isn’t that strange…and i’m totally not making it up.
    Chelsea

  6. Mine was named Emma, and she was about 18″ tall and looked like the guy who wore the suit that showed all of his insides- remember him? Only a girl version, and small. Wierd.

    I only told my brothers about her, never anyone else…

  7. I don’t think my kids have imaginary friends but they do have “pretendy” voices they’ll pull out from time to time. Harrison & Carter’s voices will raise about two octaves and the things they’re playing with will “talk” to each other with these voices. I always thought it was adorable and still love it when I’m part of the scenery enough to get to listen.

    My mom, on the other hand, can’t handle it. She said something to the boys once about it and I was like, Mom, SHUSH… this won’t last forever!

    So I’m thinking maybe it’s a generational thing. Someone told everyone back when our moms were small that imaginations were, I don’t know, dangerous. Then you have us, the Sesame Street generation… ;)

  8. Good for you – recognizing an opportunity to foster healthy emotional development in your boys… this time by not interfering with a beautiful, natural, temporary aspect of growing up. Enjoy it!

  9. Thing 1 uses his actual friends as his explanation for things. One day he told his daycare provider “Donovan loves you so much Miss Bri!!”. She’s never even met Donovan. Or he tells me that your J and Eric had fun at the park we just came home from. Hello? They weren’t there.
    That’s almost the same as imaginary friends right?

    P.S. Wanna go get peaches with us Saturday afternoon? Yum-tastic!

  10. Paco and Pessey! Wow, I haven’t thought about those two in a long time. If I recall, Paco was normal sized and Pessey was very small, the perfect size to take along in a pocket. :) By the way, it was really good to see you a few weeks ago! Love, Cousin H.

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