The latest data is suggesting that children who have an imaginary friend(or friends),are no more imaginative or creative than any other child. But this is disputed by many people who have themselves had such imaginary friends in their childhood. Kids today are dealing with so much. In even the happiest of families, there are so many stresses and various situations to be dealt with. Children often need, and maybe even crave, a special friend who is all their own and no one Else’s.My own imaginary friend, who is now safely tucked away inside the deep folds of my childhood memory bank, but is still very much alive, was a wonderful companion for several years.
Parents are often troubled when they discover their child has an imaginary friend. It’s not too big of a deal until the child starts insisting that the “friend” be included in all the family rituals and activities, such as mealtime, bath time and shopping trips. My mother was so good about it all. I’m sure that deep down she was alittle worried about my state of mind. Me being her only child and her only experience with children, it may have alarmed her some what. But she happily obliged me when I came inside for lunch and asked her to pack it up in a picnic basket, with drinks, plates and napkins for two. I would set off into the tall grass, to the warm, sun-soaked and pressed down area that was my imaginary friend’s special domain. There he awaited to hear how my day was going and share stories from the world of make-believe. We planned our outings and adventures and talked happily for hours. He seldom came into the house, but said his goodbyes in the tall grass at dusk as soon as I heard mom calling out for me to come inside.
What do imaginary friends look like? Well, only I could see mine, for he was invisible. You see, even as a child, when I lived within a fantasy, that fantasy had to appear real. I mean that for instance, it had to make sense to myself and others why no one could see him. I wasn’t the typical child who tried desperately to make others realize my friend existed, and agonized over why in the world they could not see him. I KNEW they could not see him, but it wasn’t because he was imaginary…it was because he was invisible! Children may imagine their special friend to look like anything they want him or her to look like. It can be a boy or girl, a person or animal, and can have any name the heart desires. My invisible friend was named Busy.
Being an only child, I spent all my time in solitude. Children with imaginary friends are more often than not, only children, or children with large age gaps between they and their siblings. We lived in the country and there wasn’t a home near bye with other kids to play with. I don’t quite know why Busy was who he was. He was not only invisible, but he was a grasshopper. I loved grasshoppers, and all other kinds of insects. Even more amazing was that Busy was of a strange size… a large size…my size! He was actually bigger than I, towering over me by a foot or so. He was green, and looked just like your typical grasshopper sitting in the grass. He didn’t have the persona of a cartoon character, and he didn’t move his mouth when he talked. (I don’t think so anyway because I never saw it move.) He was absolutely incredible to see, but of course only I could do that.
There is nothing wrong when your child talks to an imaginary friend. Your child is exploring the world from the safety and perspective of another made up personality. It is my opinion that the most creative of adults today at some point were wise enough to know there is solace and safety in the friends we create in our minds…the friends who do not judge, complain or criticize. Busy is still alive you know…in my heart and soul and in that realm on the other side of now which is our rich textured memory of our childhood. Busy told me I was safe when I feared, and should smile when I was frowning. He told me I could when I thought I could not, and he wiped away an occasional tear as I grew up.
In adulthood, the few people I’ve confided in about Busy, usually laugh, but then I can detect a distant look as they remember the types of things that they too imagined when they were children. Some pretended to be truckers, cowboys, pilots or doctors. Some governed fortresses, foreign countries or outer space cities. I had Busy, my endearing and faithful friend. And I suspect that just about all kids have the experience. One of my sons buckled “Shark” into the seat belt beside him every time we went somewhere, and my youngest son talked about “Cardigan” all the time. Now, someone called “My Boss” takes part in everything he does.
Imaginary friends are a healthy part of being a normal child. They are not to be feared, but loved and remembered. Busy is still real to me…still bigger than me, and still invisible. Don’t you know that’s why no one can see him?