Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Imaginary vs. Invisible Friends

As of yesterday afternoon, we have someone new living in our house. It's our very first imaginary friend! Yesterday we went to this cute little library called Launa's Little Library. It's actually a children's library in the upstairs floor of this woman's home. It's a great place to spend some time with the kids...especially for pregnant women like me! It's contained so you don't have to chase them all around. They really can't get out of your view but even if they disappear behind a shelf you don't have to worry because the only people in there are other moms, kids and Mrs. K who runs the place. The kids get their own library cards and can each check out up to 5 books (videos, cds, etc).

So, Big Bear got a Strawberry Shortcake video as one of her 5 things. It was a story about Strawberry Shortcake's friend Honey Pie Pony. As soon as the video was over the imaginary Honey Pie Pony become Big Bear's best friend. Sometimes Big Bear gets the name confused and calls her Honeymoon Pony - I was just showing her pictures of our wedding and honeymoon the other day so I guess that was stuck in her mind. They are inseparable. Although Honey Pie Pony is imaginary, she does neigh and whinny quite loudly. I was actually really nervous this morning when Big Bear asked if Honey Pie Pony could come to mass with us. I had to explain that she could but that she had to be extremely quiet. If Honey Pie was with us at mass, she did stay very quiet.

I had an imaginary friend when I was little - mine wasn't quite as cute and sweet as Honey Pie. My imaginary friend was named Mr. Miller. He was my dolls' babysitter and he only came in through the window. This freaked my parents out on many levels. First of all, they didn't have any friends named Miller so they couldn't figure out how I came up with that name. Second of all, where would I have gotten the idea that the babysitter would come in and out through a window instead of the front door like my real babysitters were prone to doing. And who has ever heard of a little girl having a grown man as an imaginary friend? I think that in this day and age with all that we hear constantly about pedophilia running rampant, if Big Bear had a Mr. Miller, we'd be on our way to see someone who specializes in getting information out of kids who have had traumatic events.

At first I thought having an imaginary friend was just a cute little thing that all kids do but today I found out that it is actually a quite invaluable tool to parents. Me Too has been very out of sorts today. She's been grumpy, clingy and had a little bit of fever although no visible signs of sickness. So between trying to keep her relatively happy and getting laundry going, Big Bear was a little ignored. No problem - she played with Honey Pie! They galloped all around the house and then had birthday parties for Honey Pie and her pony friend Milkshake. It was great! I love seeing the things she comes up to do with her imaginary friend and the fact that she has "someone" she can turn to when she needs it.

It makes me think about how adults can have "imaginary" friends - except that they are real - Jesus, Mary, the saints. We'll call them invisible friends instead of imaginary! We can talk to them, pray with them, and turn to them when we feel ignored, have problems or just when we need a friend. Today especially I'm thinking about Mary since it's her special day. I'm turning to her a lot lately because we've been having a lot of parenting issues and that is always when I seem to cling to her the most. She helps me so much in those times.

Anyway, I'm glad that we don't have to outgrow our imaginary friends...we can just take on invisible friends! I feel bad for those who don't have these people to turn to for help. I think these days, it is exactly what a lot of people do need.


Debbie said...

Invisible Friends -- I love that!

My sister Michele also had an imaginary grown man friend, Mr. Rotter. What's funny is Mr. Rotter was my best friend's father who was sometimes very grumpy! Michele loved him and he used to "play" with her and her dolls all the time.

Jeremy Adam Smith said...

Hee hee. You'd definitely be interested in this this interview with psychologist Marjorie Taylor at Daddy Dialectic -- she's an expert on imaginary friends.