Tuesday, December 04, 2007


P had a brief imaginary friend stage earlier this Fall. Last month, K started talking about her friend, Joke. (How about the irony of his name? She came up with that independently.) Joke started out as an innocent sideline character, but he has quickly become an integral part of K's world.

Anytime I compliment her on a new skill or fact she has learned she says matter-of-factly, "Joke taught me that."

During afternoon rest time she is frequently up on her knees looking out the window in her room telling me about how high Joke has climbed in the trees. Some days she refuses to lay down because "Joke is so high and that branch might snap. I am worried 'bout him, Mama!" I have learned that I am best served to play along and assure her that I will call him in and make sure he is safe.

Her stories involving him are quite creative. When she left school early last week to go to the pediatrician, she told me she left Joke at school to "look after the brothers." Then, Sunday night she cried buckets of tears because we had apparently left Joke at the restaurant where we had been for dinner. I have had to inform her that keeping up with the five people in our family is my limit. She needs to look after Joke.

This afternoon as she & I were entering Barnes & Noble she said casually, "Sometimes it hurts when you walk with toys in your shoes." If you are a mother, you know that phrases like that are cause for pause.
"It probably does. K? Do you have toys in your shoes?"
I knelt down in the middle of B&N and removed her shoes to find a plastic bracelet in one shoe and a toy lizard in the other.
"I'll bet that did hurt, sweetie. Why did you put toys in your shoes?"
"Joke told me to."

I am still not sure what to make of the whole imaginary friend thing. Particularly because Joke is very important to her. She tells me stories about him all the time. I know it is perfectly normal. I do find it hysterical that she is flanked constantly by brothers her age and she chose to invent another boy to play with. Although Joke is apparently different because he is blonde with green eyes "like Daddy's."

As my husband & I were discussing Joke tonight, we agreed to continue playing along with her. As my husband said, it is like the boyfriend you hope will just go away--if you make him off limits she's liable to become more attached. So far he is pretty harmless and fairly entertaining.

I also notice that she seems to use Joke as her 'trial balloon' to see how I might respond to various behaviors. The minds of human beings are phenomenal aren't they?

So, if you happen to see me in real life begging an invisible person to get out of a treetop, or worse yet scolding someone you cannot see, rest assured. He is very real to my little lady. Here's hoping this passes soon. Although tonight at dinner she told me she loved Joke and when they grow up they will dance together, so I think she is imagining a wedding.


Courtney said...

Wow...this is fun to read about. i am not to that stage of toddlerhood yet and it sounds so interesting! You are handling it well. I hope that Joke doesn't tell K to do anything else "silly" or worse...:)

A Place For Ministry Wives said...

Wait until you start letting them name their own animals...i.e. a fish or something. It gets even funnier. :-)

Room for Grace said...

Oh, this made me chuckle! Our son (now 7) had a very important imaginary friend at about the same age, named BoBo. He would hold out his hand where ever we'd go, holding BoBo. Sorry to tell you, but it lasted about a year and BoBo developed sidekicks, JoJO and Line. Like K, he'd say Bobo made him do things and wouldn't get to sleep properly.
Now when we tell him stories about his imaginary friends, he barely believes us and thinks it's hilarious.
These days won't last forever, enjoy!

Christi said...

Ah, yes. The imaginary friend. We went through that at about 3.5 years. And occasionally, Ryan still mentions him.

Like you we just played along; like K, Ryan used it mostly as a means of finding out if he could get away with something. When the "things" became more daring (or off-limits) we simply told him that it was fine if 'Justin' did it, but that HE (R) would be getting the punishment - so he'd better make sure Justin knew the rules.

Wasn't long before we were on to another stage.

Anonymous said...


laurie said...

This makes me think of stories my Mom tells of my imaginary friend named "brother". At least you know she is very creative! So cute. . . .

Sniz said...

This made me laugh so hard. "Sometimes it hurts when you walk with toys in your shoes." What a great line! I love Joke already and am stunned that he is so real to her! I wonder if she'll start blaming Joke for her bad decisions. I also loved your husband's comparison of Joke to a boyfriend that you hope just goes away. Love this post!

MamaBear said...

How priceless! Your kids are going to be so thrilled someday that you recorded all these wonderful moments ... my 6- and 8-year-old daughters ask me all the time to tell me stories about them when they were babies, and I'm finding so many of the sweet moments have already faded from my memory. Thanks for a great laugh today!

Martina said...

Some people think what adults call "imaginary friends" are actually angels that children can see but adults can't (we don't have that pure, childlike faith anymore). Just think about it.

Lori said...

My mother (who had a whole imaginary family when she was 5) told me that this kind of imagination is a sign of high intelligence. My son had an imaginary brother for several years. When we moved, he moved too. Then one day, out of the blue, he said, "Dad is true, I don't really have a brother." And, that was the end of "Kevin". My son doesn't remember Kevin, but we do and have very fond memories of his time with us.

Paulette said...

I love it, my son when he was 3 always brought his tend friends (2 of them) to every single thing we did. Once he left them at church sleeping on the pew, discovered them still there at oh lets say 2 in the morning and woke his daddy and I up and insisted we go and get them. I insisted that they had each other and loved having a slumber party at the church!! That sufficed. He went to extremes in Dr.s office and even told our pastor they wanted to be baptised when he was, oh the memories!
He never out grew them until around age 9!!
It is perfectly normal for there creative minds, K may feel she needs them because her brothers have each other. I think it is precious and this to shall pass eventually

hi my name is mommy said...

Ohhhhh what a great laugh!!! I loved the toys in the shoes. I haven't had a chance to look at your blog in a long while, but I can always count on some good stuff! Your kids are beautiful angels as always!