Invisible World


My son has a wonderful imagination. At least, I hope he does, because that’s less alarming than all the other possible reasons I keep overhearing his conversations with stuffed animals, a giant invisible squid, and someone named Booger (although that last one might have been an actual booger, now that I think about it.)

Caleb’s been doing the imaginary friend thing for a while now. I remember the first interloper well. His name was Totempole. We didn’t get along, Totempole and I. He made messes all over the apartment and said the most cheeky things under his breath whenever I was trying to impart a Valuable Lesson to my impressionable then-two-year-old. He dawdled, smacked his gum, told jokes when it was time to go to sleep, and basically challenged my authority at every turn. I also suspect he left the lid up on the toilet the night I accidentally fell in, but the evidence was inconclusive.

Fortunately, Totempole eventually moved on, presumably to wreak havoc on some other family, and a few weeks later, in the middle of dinner, Franken showed up to finish Caleb’s unwanted, half-eaten cheeseburger. He was quiet and respectful and rarely even spoke to me, unless it was to ask nicely for a piece of candy after I’d given Caleb one. Franken went on lots of trips with us, but I often didn’t even know he was in the car until Caleb asked me to help him with his seat belt.

We still see Franken occasionally, but Caleb has widened his circle of friends considerably in the past year. The aforementioned giant squid apparently possesses the knack of flying through the air. I heard Caleb chattering away to him last week as we walked through the mall. Just before we got to the car, Caleb said, “Where are you going? To the deep ocean? Okay, bye.” I hope he found his way all right; it’s a few hundred miles to the nearest beach. Then, yesterday, we were leaving for school when Caleb turned around and said, “Bye, kid.”

“What kid are you talking about?” I asked.

“The pumpkin head kid,” he told me, looking at me with great patience and pointing to our freshly carved jack-o-lantern.

They say that the appearance of imaginary playmates is a healthy developmental step, a little bit of magic performed by a mind that still hasn’t quite solidified the line between fantasy and reality. Totempole and the invisible squid live in a temporary twilight that only shines on childhood. And I suspect the day will come all too soon when we’ll see the back of Franken as he walks away for the last time.

In the meantime, though, at least my boy won’t be lonely. His friends are everywhere.

16 responses »

  1. My son has never had an imaginary friend. He seems to be his own best friend. That is actually quite a good thing, to be so comfortable with yourself that you don’t NEED to be around other people. Of course, my fear is that he might be too much of a loner, so we keep putting him into social situations. Thankfully he does get along well with other kids once he warms up to them. But all in all, he just likes to play by himself, slaying dragons or blasting space aliens.

  2. Isn’t a child’s imagination fascinating?!

    There was a children’s song when I was a kid: “Germs, My Invisible Dog”…at some point I adopted him as my own. We had good times, Germs and I.

  3. I would really love to have that childlike instant access to the realms of imagination again. Although as an adult, perhaps it’s not quite so cute. I think they have other terms for it when you begin talking to people who aren’t there. Then again, I do comment to myself quite a bit…

  4. Oh, I love their little minds. So creative, so free to believe in everything and anything. Nothing is impossible. Maybe I’ll just invent some invisible friends for myself, sounds like a good idea to me!!

  5. Yes, I did, thank you very much for your thoughtfullness. I traveled the 349.9 miles uneventfully, except for a quick stop for dinner at McDonald’s with Greg in Ellensburg (his mother isn’t as welcoming as you are. I entered Admiralty Inlet just west of Austin on Whidbey Island and traveled to the deep ocean through the Strait of Juan De Fuca. The water is fine. And by the way, the sweater you were looking at in the mall was hideous, good thing you didn’t buy it. The socks on the other hand were quite delighful and should find their way into your Christmas stocking or it would be a crime.

  6. Speaking of imagination, I think that the previous commenter is imagining that I know what she’s talking about…lol! 😀

    I hope I do get delightful socks in my Christmas stocking, though.

  7. My oldest had imaginary friends, but they never had names, as far as I know anyway. He’d always sit & carry on conversations with them when no one else was around, or so he thought. I loved to sit & listen to him talk and reason 🙂 But alas, they are now gone. He now just does karate with imaginary villians and bad guys 🙂 I so happy to see his that imagination is still a strong part of his personality!

  8. Cute. I always wanted an imaginary friend when I was little. I had other friends who had their own imaginary friends and I was envious. So, I’d try to conjure up my own, but alas, it never seemed to be as fullfilling for me as it did them. I guess I just didn’t have as good of an imagination…oh well.

  9. I have also read that it is very healthy to have an imaginary friend. And that boys tend to have them more than girls. Maybe because girls have 500 stuffed animals and dolls to converse with?

  10. That’s a very well developed imagination your son has. Wonder who he gets that from?

    Btw, you wouldn’t have fallen in if you’d remembered to check for spiders…

  11. My dear, do you not recognize me? I am the Giant Invisible Squid. Just because I am a cephalopod doesn’t mean I am uninterested in the ramblings of my homo sapien friends (or their mothers, as the case may be.) Amusing piece of dicourse, your blog is.

  12. Oh, sweet squid! Please forgive me for not recognizing your indelibly inky stamp on the previous comment. I should have known–your insights are always so full of fishy perspicacity!

    Thank you for the shrewd shopping advice and for reminding us mere mortals that not all cephalopods are cut from the same cloth!

    Visit anytime. Caleb misses you. 😉

  13. I had invisible friends. It was actually a whole family. I’ll have to blog about that. I do have a scrapbook page that someone did of her son’s invisible friends. She made them all out of vellum & I believe he called them “the gang”.:) Cute idea-let me know if you want me to scan it in & email it to you.

  14. This is marginally reassuring. My kid has an imaginary friend called Bepdate. Bepdate. What the HELL kind of name is Bepdate?! Bepdate arrives spontaneously and jumps about from place to place with no warning. He also can really put away the McDonalds. Worse, the younger child now ALSO sees Bepdate from time to time.

    I really. Really really. Hope this is an imaginary friend and that these two will have cranking fantasy lives to rival Roald Dahl’s someday…

  15. My 7 yr. old has an imaginery friend named Bobby that he’s had for a couple of years now. I don’t know how long this will last, but I was sure this would have stopped by now. However, Bobby has been around more often lately since he started his new school. I’m sure Bobby is a comfort to him. He is very serious about him, too. We do NOT joke around about Bobby or he gets very upset. We’ll see what happens as time goes on….

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