Imagine That!

Pinky, Unicorn, and Lisa rendered with Microsoft Clip Art

Besides our 2 children, we are also the hosts of Laura’s 6 imaginary friends: Pinky, Unicorn, Lisa, Emily Elizabeth (from Clifford), Special Agent Oso (from the Disney Channel show), and Sarah. Here is how Laura describes the 3 most long-standing and constant of her friends:

Pinky is a pig.  She eats garbage from the trashcan and makes a big mess.  I laugh at her because she always has a trash mustache.  She knows lots of things because she is very smart.

Lisa is a little girl.  She loves to go outside, run, and get fresh air.  She has the best talent ever.  It is doing chores.  She always wears a dress that is purple with hearts, polka-dots, and short sleeves.

Unicorn is a unicorn from a fairy tale book.  She has a talent, too – cleaning up her room.  Unicorn has a horn on her forehead.  Unicorns are always white, you know.  She eats leaves.  Why do unicorns eat leaves?  What do real unicorns really look like?  I want to see real unicorns come to life.

Pinky first appeared when Laura was 3 years old, and we were concerned.  We researched and found that a  surprising 65% of children may have imaginary friends.  As more imaginary friends have arrived, our tactics have remained consistent:

    • Treat imaginary friends as real friends.  We do not try to make her give up her imaginary friends.   We enjoy hearing the adventures of Laura’s friends.  For example, Lisa left for several months because she was visiting her family in South America.
    • Let Laura guide how to interact with her imaginary friends.  If Laura says that Pinky hit her and wants us to discipline, then Pinky is scolded and put into time out just as Laura would be.

Laura knows her imaginary friends are not real.  When we play along too much, she reminds us of that fact.

What is your experience with imaginary friends?   Did you have one when you were a child?

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About Beth

Wife, mother of 2, worker bee - striving to balance roles and continually learn
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13 Responses to Imagine That!

  1. I don’t remember having imaginary friends – but my son keeps referring to ‘Emily’ – and we have no idea who that is… he also repeats every thing his teacher said that day to the other kids as if they were in the room with us … all a mystery to me 🙂

  2. the waiting says:

    I had an imaginary friend named Saucy who was a jar of pimentos. Wow, after typing that out and reading it , i am now faced with how jacked up that sounds.

  3. dogear6 says:

    My sister had an imaginery friend. She drove my parents nuts with it too. One time she had them driving all over because her friend needed help. It was hard for them to ignore it, but they also learned to not put undue attention to her friend either. She eventually outgrew it. Surprisingly, none of her children had an imaginary friend.

    Actually, the reason I stopped by was to thank you for your faithfulness in reading my blog and clicking on like. You are the best!

    • Beth says:

      The story with your sister shows the downside of taking an imaginary friend seriously. We want to encourage her creativity, but at the same time set limits to how much Pinky and company rule our lives.

      It is my pleasure to read your blog. I enjoy how you pick a word each day and use it for your inspiration. It is always interesting to see where you end up.

      • dogear6 says:

        Thanks for the wonderful compliment! It’s been an interesting ride trying to use those words and yet maintain content. I hope you continue reading it even if I no longer do the word in 2012.

  4. shoes says:

    I love this! I wish my boys had imaginary friends – such a magical thing. Pinky and her trashcan mustache cracked me up. 🙂

  5. Maggie says:

    Fun! Zoe pretends to see monsters pretty often these days, and we try to do what you’re doing, take it seriously but not too seriously. Sometimes we step on the monsters, or say, “Go away, monster!”, or just reassure her that monsters aren’t real and can’t get us. I blame her older cousin and that darn Abominable Snow Monster.

    • Beth says:

      As my daughter has grown bigger, I’ve had to re-examine what makes something real vs. imaginary. Explaining dreams and answering questions about unicorns has helped me realize that for her these things are as real as cousins she has never met.

      On monsters, I’ve started to take a Harry Potter approach. Remember when he learned to face his worst fears by making them ridiculous? I ask Laura to describe the monster she says is scaring her and then embellish on the details. For example, long claws might be made of pretzels that turn into mush in the rain or shatter into crumbs if the monster tries to grab anything.

  6. Mom G says:

    A thought to build on: are only or eldest children the ones most likely to have imaginary friends? Your older brother Luke had an imaginary playmate for awhile when he was in the 2-3 age range, when he had more solitary play time. Once siblings became constant companions, the imaginary friend disappeared. None of his younger siblings had imaginary friends that I can recall. The classic imaginary friend, of course, is Calvin’s friend Hobbes, again an example of a single child without a sibling playmate, who created one to share adventures and save him from trouble. Momma G

    • Beth says:

      You may be onto something with eldest / only children. 2nd children don’t have to look for playmates in the same way.
      To give more background, Laura picked up her first imaginary friend, Pinky, at daycare. Her friend, Megan, had Pinky as an imaginary friend and introduced her to Laura. In that sense, imaginary friends may be contagious. Viral ideas aren’t just for grownups. It will be interesting to see if Jason has an imaginary friend when he gets a little bigger.

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