I just spent 15 minutes looking for my daughter’s friend Violet during a mean game of hide-and-go-seek. I couldn’t find this chick anywhere. I looked in the laundry room, under the beds, and even in the scary hall closet with all the junk I don’t know what to do with.
I almost gave up and let her stay lost when finally my daughter gave me a clue.
“She’s behind something blue.”
I looked at the chair that my husband’s grandmother gave us when we first married.
“Behind here? Really?”
“Good job, Mommy! You found Violet. She’s pretty good at this game, huh?”
Yes, she is, I thought. Because when you’re invisible you’re pretty much guaranteed to be good at hide-and-go-seek.
Violet has been a part of our lives since Ellie was two. She first arrived on the morning we were heading to my grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving. We had just pulled out of the driveway when she started screaming from the backseat.
“Viwet. Oh no Viwet. Get Viwet.”
I had no idea who she was talking about. I ran back in the house and brought out doll after doll asking, “Is this her?”
After several failed attempts, I unhooked her from the car seat and let her go inside and hunt for Viwet herself so we could get on the road.
She ran right into the playroom and said, “Viwet, come here.” Then she turned and bolted back to the car without even looking in my direction.
I was so confused. So, I just followed her back to the car, buckled her in and hopped into my seat ready to head out of town.
My husband looked at me and said, “Did you find the mystery doll?”
“Apparently, Violet isn’t a doll. I think it’s her imaginary friend.”
We both just shook our heads and laughed as he backed out of the driveway. And since that day, Violet has attended nearly every family event and lots of trips to the doctor and the grocery store. She likes to play checkers and eat macaroni and cheese. I have to set a place for her at the table and remember her on Christmas morning.
I’ll be honest, sometimes I feel like calling her mother and asking her to get her invisible self over here and help clean up the very visible messes. But it’s okay because Violet has become a part of our family and our hearts.
For preschoolers, invisible friends are an important part of their social and emotional development. They can help them to develop language and conflict resolution skills. Imaginary friends also help further imaginative play and creativity. There was a time, though, when some child “experts” said imaginary friends were seen as a symptom of social problems. I totally disagree. I love listening and watching Ellie and Violet play together. They have so much fun watching movies, playing games, and sharing secrets. And Violet is also a lot of help when I need to make dinner or actually go to the bathroom – alone! I invite the two of them to the table to eat a snack or color a picture. And when I return, I am always so amazed to hear about their adventures.
Most parents probably wonder whether or not imaginary friends are healthy. I believe you need to trust your instincts. One thing to look for though is whether or not your child is still playing with other children. If she is, then her imaginary friend is a normal part of her social development.
I remember playing with my imaginary friend, Christine, as a child. She helped me if I was sad when my older brother left to play with the boy next door and she encouraged me in kindergarten when I was almost too scared to recite a poem during the school talent show.
As I think back to that Thanksgiving when we almost forgot Violet at home, I wonder what if we hadn’t rushed back in for her? How would that have changed my sweet Ellie?
I’m so thankful that we did and I hope she stays around to be one more person my daughter can depend on in life.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and all those you love – both seen and unseen.