Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Who's Your friend?

I was trying to remember if, as a child, I'd ever had an imaginary friend. After some effort I could vaguely recall talking to myself sometimes but that was just me having a one-way conversation. I don't think I ever actually conjured up a little pal who was exclusively visible and accessible to me. Someone I could consult and play games with.

Photograph by Speckly Woo!

As I watch our three granddaughters growing up, I'm intrigued to see if any of them show signs of having imaginary friends. But, as yet, Speckly Woo! continues to have inventive conversations with her long suffering rag doll, Mary, and the 16 month old twins haven't developed a recognisable vocabulary. Most of the time, they burble away in their own little world. Some might say, like grandfather, like granddaughters.

The point is, 'their own little world' is a place we have no way of entering. We can only guess at what goes on there. For example, there are those eerie moments when a toddler's full attention is drawn to a point somewhere in middle distance. Question marks start to appear over your head.  Even more inexplicable, the little darlings begin to smile at their new object of interest.

I have read theories that small children may use levels of consciousness that recede or get overtaken as they pass the two year mark. As always, there's a danger that we adults may place a heavily speculative label on that which we don't fully understand. When our daughter was about two and a half, we told her about our wedding. She listened intently before declaring, "I was there. They carried me in on a pink cushion." It's reasonable to expect that my instant reaction would be to try and work out what had given her that idea. On the contrary, I was more intrigued to know who 'they' were.

© 2010, copyright Martin T. Hodges


  1. I like your daughter's declaration about being at your wedding! My imaginary friend is, was in the form of a dog both real and imagined.

  2. I love the pink cushion presentation! As for imaginary friends, I spent a lot of time with the Lone Ranger and Tonto on either side of me.

  3. When our youngest son was also about two and a half, we were talking about his birth. My husband said, "You came out of mommy's tummy, but you don't remember that." He answered with, "Yes, bright lights and my head hurt." We just looked at each other in amazement.

  4. i do recall having an imaginary friend, but i certainly imagined being many things other than what i was.

    my daughter had an imaginary friend she called ebenezer - which was quite a unique name for a 3 year old to embrace - ebenezer was a fixture at our house for years.....

    now 25 yrs later, ms t (age 5), my 'fictive' granddaughter who spends considerable time at my house has had an imaginary brother for the last year her mama is expecting a real brother - due christmas, i'll be curious to see what happens to the imaginary bro!!

  5. I love tales of imaginary friends. My daughter had one called James who had a beard and lived in my wardrobe!
    And I firmly believe that little ones can see or understand things that we've forgotten.

  6. My grandson told me he wished we were the same size 'like we used to be before, when we played together'. Reincarnation?
    My imaginary friend arrived when I was thirty. It's John Wayne and he's always there when I need courage. Honest!

  7. I don't recall an imaginery friends, but I'm sure I must have had one. Fascinating post!

  8. Several of my grandchildren have had imaginary friends. The most unique one was a turtle that had to be carried in the hand. It greatly impeded holding hands and doing other activities. We adults might have forgotten its presence, but my grandchild never did.

  9. INteresting to hear your conjectures. I created a character (hesitate to call him 'friend' as I'm not really involved - he talks to other people, I am somehow all of them) at the advanced age of 13 and still spend lots of time in that world - I suppose it's a sort of crutch or distancing mechanism. Weird huh?

    Moptop told me recently of a colleague who had a dozen imaginary friends in an imaginary city. One day he looked in the mirror and decided he was going to kill them all off, one at a time... even weirder huh? I'm using this in a story.

    Word verification = 'verapy'. I think we'll all need verapy after all this!

  10. Thanks everyone. It seems that imaginary friends come in all shapes, sizes and disguises. Vicki, Lynne, there's an odd wild west thing going on here. And I never expected a turtle, a bearded wardrobe-dweller or imaginary city-dwellers living on borrowed time. Glad I raised the subject, though.

  11. I apparently had two, named Nuffpig and Nosepop, whom I don't recall at all, but somewhat later there was Rosemary, who was a malicious fairy bear who lived in the sugar dispensers in restaurants. Bizarre, eh?

  12. sEAN - I think Rosemary tops the lot. Fairly bizarre, I'd say.


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