After reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and then discussing it with my book club, I started remembering my daughter’s imaginary friends. I dug out the notes I made when she was about 5, nearing the end of her constant talk of “The Imaginaries“.
This is long, but I think it’s funny.
Amelia had her first imaginary friend before she turned two. The friend’s name was “Miss Blue“. Sometimes she’d want me to play the part of Miss Blue, sometimes she would be Miss Blue, and sometimes Miss Blue was there, playing with us. Miss Blue had been in our lives for a month or more when we went to Target one day. As we were going down the aisles, Amelia’s eyes got big, and she pointed and shouted “Look! Miss Blue!”. She was pointing to a Blue’s Clues bath mitt– one that was like a puppet. She had seen other Blue’s Clues toys– I think she may even have had some already (she loved the show), but none of them were “Miss Blue”. I bought Miss Blue for her, and Miss Blue was only present in the bathtub from that day on.
When Amelia was 1 1/2, she got her first doll for Christmas . It cried, and she was terrified of it. We took the sound box out, but she still wanted nothing to do with it. Just before her second birthday, she found the doll and started playing with it. Amelia named her “WisWis” and started calling her Baby WisWis. Since she was interested, I gave Amelia an old doll of mine, and she named this one “CeCe” (called Baby CeCe).
After a little while, she’d play with Baby CeCe and Baby WisWis even if the dolls weren’t there. Soon “Big CeCe” and “Big WisWis” joined the crowd– they seemed to be older versions of Baby CeCe and Baby WisWis. Amelia would be sitting in her carseat while we were driving somewhere. Suddenly, she would start waving and yelling “Big WisWis! Over here! I’m here! I’m here!” and a conversation would commence.
Her relationship with the four of them came to a tragic end sometime when she was 3.
Amelia had taken Baby WisWis and Baby CeCe (the dolls) into the bathtub with her. Baby WisWis had a cloth body. I squeezed her out as best I could, and hung her up on the towel rack to dry. Amelia was amused by this. Baby CeCe had a hollow body, and water leaked inside. I got out what I could, but some water remained. Amelia pointed this out the next day. I performed CPR on Baby CeCe, and water came out of her mouth. Amelia did NOT like this.
The next day I was informed that Baby CeCe and Big CeCe were taking naps, and couldn’t be woken up. After they failed to wake up for several days, I grew concerned, and checked on Baby CeCe, who appeared to have developed pneumonia– she still had water in her chest. I took her to the baby hospital (out of Amelia’s sight) and cleared up the congestion.
Amelia was still somewhat suspicious of both real and imaginary CeCes. Unfortunately, Baby CeCe lost her leg in a tragic accident shortly afterward. That was all Amelia could handle. CeCe and WisWis had to be kept out of site, and all four imaginary friends were at home taking naps any time I asked about them.
She never again wanted anything to do with the doll CeCe, but the doll WisWis eventually returned to play. The imaginary friends have not been seen since.
I don’t remember when generation 3 of imaginary friends started– I do remember Amelia playing school with them the summer before she started preschool, so I’d guess it was just after she turned 3.
First was LaLa, followed by Emily and then Lau. These were more run of the mill imaginary friends, at least to start with. They were joined by a secondary cast that would come and go– many I only heard about a couple of times. A few (like Doot Doo and Imaginary, among others) made repeated appearances.
Then, they (the imaginary friends) developed friends that were not Amelia’s friends. She was quite clear on this, and would tell us about them. The didn’t seem to be troublemakers, and I often wondered whose choice it was not to be friends: Amelia’s, her imaginary friends’ or the other friends’.
Next, the imaginary friends started having imaginary friends (which were different from the friends they had that weren’t Amelia’s friends. That’s right. In the world of the imaginary friends, there were real friends and imaginary friends).
We were at Costco for a BIG shopping trip, and Amelia asked if I knew why the cart was so heavy. I listed some of the heavy things in the cart (including her) and she said that was part of it. It was REALLY heavy because I was pushing the cart with her in it, and she was pushing another heavy cart with Lau in it, and Lau was pushing a heavy cart with one of her imaginary friends in it, and Lau’s imaginary friend was pushing a cart, too.
There was also a period where I would need to babysit Emily any time Amelia left the room. I’d need to give a full report when Amelia returned. This is the only time Amelia has wanted me to acknowledge the imaginary friends– I never needed to set a place for them, or keep from sitting/stepping on them.
There were several months where Lau would have at least one birthday a week. Lau’s age at the party varied widely, however.
The change from generation 3 to generation 4 was very subtle, and I’m not entirely sure I should call it a new generation. LaLa hadn’t been around for at about a year, and Emily for at least 6 months.
At this time, Lau only appeared in one context. If I said we were going somewhere, and Amelia wasn’t sure she liked the idea, she’d tell me she needed to pick Lau up somewhere at that time, so she wasn’t sure she could go. If she thought about it and decided it was OK, then she’d tell me Lau could stay all day at gymnastics camp, at extended care at preschool, or something similar.
I stopped detected new recurring characters. She’d spend a huge amount of time playing with her imaginary friends, but it was different– she would tell a long, drawn out story and interact with them. She’d use different voices for different friends, or she’d say “Musashi says….” and then “something something says Aubrey”. She was much less likely to make up names, they’d often belong to classmates.
She told me she had “a thousand hundred” imaginary friends. She dubbed the whole troupe of them “The Imaginaries”. She’d say things like “we have a really big family if you count The Imaginaries”.
Once she started elementary school, The Imaginaries disappeared, or at least went undercover (After reading this, she says they all went to their own big house). Her voice would be much softer when playing, so I didn’t get as much of the story and of the characters. I miss The Imaginaries!