Imaginary Friend

When I was five years old and my second younger sister had just been born, I began to talk about a little boy no one else could see. He was close to my age, wore blue bib overalls and tennis shoes.

According to Mom, she became aware of him as we were sitting down for one of our frequent reading sessions. I announced in horror: “Mom, you’re sitting on Cocker-Dukey!”

Mom says she quickly apologized, got up, then cupped her hands and pretended to move him over so she could sit between us to read. Cocker-Dukey attended all our reading sessions, was tucked in at night and had his own place at the dinner table.

Researchers have theorized that children with imaginary friends may develop language skills and retain knowledge faster than children without them. This could be because these children get more linguistic practice than their peers, a result of carrying on “conversations” with their imaginary friends.

Research further reported that 65% of people say they have had an imaginary friend at some point in their lives. Usually before the age of seven. Its further reported imaginary friends are an integral part of many children’s lives.

They provide comfort in times of stress, companionship when they’re lonely, someone to boss around when they feel powerless, and someone to blame for the broken lamp in the living room.

Most important, an imaginary friend is a tool that young children can use to help them make sense of the adult world. Another researcher dispelled some results suggesting children with imaginary friends might be superior in intelligence; it is not true that only intelligent children create them.

Humor the child, Mom had been told and that’s what she did until it seemed she hadn’t heard about Cocker-Dukey for a while. When she asked, I told her he had gone down the street one day, turned, waved good-bye and was gone.

I have vivid memories of my old imaginary friend. I like to think that was the start of my penchant to surround myself with the wonderful, funny and thoughtful friends who have always inhabited my life.

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