Monday, April 15, 2013

Freeing the Imagination


existing only in the imagination or fancy; not real; fancied: an imaginary illness; the imaginary animals inthe stories of Dr. Seuss.





My daughter has an extremely active imagination… while I like to think she inherits that from me (I am almost always fantasising and making up stories in my minds eye) I've not had this  type of Imagination in my life.

The Simple, yet powerful Imaginary Friend.  

Being an only child, I oft worry that she is missing out. Of being a big sister, personally I think she would have made a beautiful big sister. Of sharing her time with siblings, and playing silly games like I did as a child.

Setting aside all of my crushed hopes and dreams, she has become a perfectly rounded little person. She is compassionate, she is loving and super smart (yes I am slightly biased). She also has an imagination that carries her playtime to a whole new level. She is perfectly content to sit and play with her toys and make up games and chatter away to herself. I know other children with siblings are probably likely to do this too, however I highly doubt it would be a similar level of imaginative play. For the record… I detest the term "only child" I also hate when she is compared to other "only children" (but that there is a whole other blog post!) As with ANY child, one from a family of 6 or one from a family of 1; they are all different in their own unique way. I digress…     

One day CC arrived. Her big sister CC. At first I wondered as she came bearing the same initials as my name - but alas it had nothing to do with me, supposedly she shares the name with a TV show character. Now CC sits in during some of those solitary games and they play nicely together (so I am told) but this story is not about the playtime rituals. This is about a shopping trip last week. My daughter and I.

And CC.

To begin - I had no idea that she had gatecrashed our girly shopping trip and while yes she is a girl, I was not impressed to have her tag along with us. I wanted some Mummy / daughter time! As we naughtily sat and devoured muffins and coffee - our new friend CC sat beside us. Quietly. (and yes, the irony of having to sit at a 4 seater table amidst a busy food court during lunch time rush, was not lost on me!)

Later we started shopping in earnest and there was a lot of chatter coming from my Daughter (honestly this child could talk under water. She. Does. Not. Stop.) as the day wore on, so too did my nerves and as mums are wan to do at times, I started answering in mono-syllables. Yes. Okay. Hmm. Sure. (Come now - I am NOT the only one that does this right???) Plus every 2nd word out of her mouth was about CC. And god-forbid I say something derogatory about CC; I was answered with a withering glare "but mum, thats CC talking right now, she says…" blah, blah, blah. I tried my best to listen, I really did.  

After an hour or two of this, plus a mad dash to the toilet and the thought of another 4 shops PLUS a full grocery shop. The mere mention of CC was wearing on frazzled nerves. In the toilets I mentioned that I had sent CC back to the car and was met with silence then a plaintive "Why?" "Because mummy said so" "OH okay."  

So came the next four stores, still with consistent chatter and the occasional mention of CC and pondered questions of how she was going sitting in the car.

Then as we finished the last of our errands in the 4th store; a mere minute of quiet. My daughter blurts out "Wow, it has been SO QUIET since we sent CC to the car"

Oh. Em. Gee. 


So my question today is about Imaginary friends. Did you have one? Do your children have them? How long do they 'hang' out for and do they ever shut up?

As for my feelings on it… At the moment, I sort of feel the need to nurture her imagination - imaginary friends included. We have discussed that CC is NOT REAL and I am usually met with a withering glare and a "got it mum." I did some reading up about Imaginary Friends last week, even though we hadn't had a mention of her in days and it turns out there is differing opinions on whether kids should or should not have an imaginary friend. Some say it is something that goes away when school begins, some stick around till the age of 7 (my daughter is a little younger than this) and still more say its a sign of mental issues… oh my god. Seriously?

I've sat on this blog post for a few days after reading these silly thoughts - I can't see how different an imaginary friend is during childhood compared to myself writing a story; where I readily admit that the characters 'speak' to me. 

Personally I don't see any harm in it - right now. I see this phase as part of her integral childhood and while she understands that she isn't real, then really is it hurting anyone? Perhaps deep down, I feel guilty that she doesn't have a sibling, hence the need to create an imaginary friend. To be completely honest the whole NO sibling thing has been playing in the back of my head as close family expand their family from one child to two. CC seems to be a recent addition to my Daughters life and I can't help but wonder if perhaps this is her own way of dealing with the fact that she doesn't have a brother or sister.

It makes me contemplate my own decisions and there impact upon others.  


Anonymous said...

My mum had an imaginary friend, My gradparents were very accomodating of her, even at times driving back to collect the I.F and opening doors, I'm pretty sure mum doesnt have mental issues as a result though I've never really asked much about it

I'm pretty sure your little miss is just doing a normal Kid thing, even as a big sister she'd wish she had an older sibling, I know I did.

for the record, mum was the younger child, by 9 years

Sarah said...

I didnt have an imaginary friend exactly as a child but I did have a very active imagination and played games where imaginary friends joined in. I guess having one around outside of a game is just the next step on from that.

I have 3 older sisters, all of us are close in age and although I played with them I still had my solitary time with my 'friends' so Im not sure that makes much difference.

I wouldnt see it as anything to worry about at all, if she was happy for CC to go and wait in the car you could always suggest that CC stayed at home or did something else at times where you wanted it to just be the two of you.

On the whole I'd see it as a good thing and just wait for the phase to pass.