When I was a small child, I had two imaginary friends: Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum. They were my constant companions, playmates, and confidantes. Even though I had a brother who was close to me in age, I used to play with Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum all the time. Soon after my sister was born (I was 6-years-old at the time), I decided I didn’t need them anymore. There was no room in the car for them with 3 kids in the back seat, so when we went for a drive, Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum would have to follow us in their own car. One day, they got lost. I never saw them again.
These days, I have plenty of imaginary friends — but I like to call them “characters” and keep them mostly confined to the written page. Big Brother, on the other hand, has a host of them he likes to play with.
He has two favourite imaginary friends: Joey and Big Brother Number Two.
Joey is a sweet, quiet boy. He’s a bit littler than Big Brother, and Big Brother is quite protective of him. Joey has trouble speaking sometimes, and “talks with his hands” instead of his voice. Joey likes reading, colouring, jigsaw puzzles, and other quiet activities. He’ll join in with rowdier games sometimes, but he’s not very good at them. Big Brother is often to be found sitting quietly, having little conversations with Joey about life, the universe and everything.
Big Brother Number Two is the same age, height, and appearance as Big Brother. BB#2 likes running races, climbing, jumping, yelling, and anything NOISY. He’s rowdy and rambunctious, and equally good as Big Brother at all things active and adventurous. He doesn’t like quiet activities, though, and will often “go home” at quiet time. Big Brother doesn’t confide in BB#2 — he argues with him. I’ve heard Big Brother walking around the house saying, “No, I’m the real Big Brother! No, I am! I am!”
Less popular imaginary friends include Robot: a bad influence if ever there was one. Robot only visits when Big Brother is tired. Robot is responsible for making a mess, arguing back, and refusing to pick up toys. The moment he shows up these days, I go and open the front door and tell him it’s time to go home.
One of the amazing thing about imaginary friends is the effort that we, as parents, will go to accommodate them: “Of course Joey can come in the car with us. Let me open the door for him.”, “Of course Joey and BB#2 can stay for dinner. Yes, they can have plates, too.”, “No, Robot isn’t allowed to sleep over. Let’s go and wave goodbye to him.”
But just in case I ever get carried away and need a reality check, Big Brother is quick to remind me: “Mummy, they’re not real. I just made them up.”
Did you have imaginary friends as a kid? Do your children have them? How far do you go to accommodate them?