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. 

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