July 17, 2013

"Imaginary friends...forever?" This week's Mother, Interrupted article

Imaginary friends…forever?

I never had an imaginary friend. I know that a lot of normal, healthy kids invent these invisible pals to keep themselves entertained. In fact, there appears (or should I say, “doesn’t appear”) to be an imaginary friend lurking around my house these days. His name is “Roni,” which might be related to my daughter’s love for pepperoni and macaroni, but I’m not sure.

My daughter describes Roni as a friendly monster that doesn’t smell bad, like other monsters. It’s hard to smell bad when you’re invisible, I guess. I don’t mind him hanging around—he doesn’t eat much, is very polite, and never hogs the remote. His lack of stench is clearly a benefit. However, I made a little mistake when my daughter first told me about him. I decided to give him a funny voice—a bizarre mixture of New York and Jamaican accents that is hard to reproduce on (my daughter’s) command. What’s so bad about that?

First, my daughter’s extremely discriminating ears know when I’m doing the voice “wrong.” She then lets me know. Loudly. Sometimes it takes me a few tries before I can find the right Yankee-Jamaican accent again—it doesn’t come naturally, and three year olds aren’t exactly known for their patience. Her frustration makes it even harder to recall the accent, so I sit there sounding like Jerry Seinfeld one minute, Bob Marley the next, and occasionally Gilbert Gottfried—don’t ask. It’s all just really bizarre.

Second, since she thinks Roni’s voice magically comes out of my mouth, I have to be involved in all the pretend scenarios my daughter imagines when she plays with him. Isn’t it enough that the guy is imaginary? Is it really required for me to stay in character even when I’m trying to eat, get dressed, write a column, or use the bathroom? Apparently so. It’s just naturally hard to say no to your adorable three year old daughter, especially when she’s being so creative and imaginative.

It is pretty amazing how creative children can be! Their imaginations run wild and entertain them no matter where they are. Maybe that’s why children are usually so happy. It makes me wonder where most of that creativity goes when we grow up.  I guess you have to “use it or lose it.” In that case, my daughter is keeping me on my toes and exercising my creativity every day. We have fun pretending.

I’ve got nothing against imaginary people. I imagine (pardon my pun) they’re nice folks. For the time being, I guess I’ll continue my starring role as Roni, the fresh-scented bus-driving monster from Brooklyn who loves celery and brushing his teeth. Now that I think about it, he is pretty cool. I don’t know how long he’ll stick around, but I hope he’s gone by the time little M is allowed to date (around age 35, from my calculations). I may have to look into getting an imaginary friend of my own.


Debra, a Lebanon, TN native, is a novice mother, wife, and college student. She writes about the parts of parenthood you didn’t expect when you were expecting.
Email her at interruptedmom@gmail.com or visit the website at motherinterrupted.com.

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