Sunday, May 29, 2011


When I was a kid, I spent many, many hours lost in my own imagination. I can remember playing house with my little sister for hours on end. My stuffed animals and baby dolls were all real, and just like in "Toy Story," they all talked and moved around when I wasn't there. In 4th grade I often played news reporter with my best friend, Jessica. One of us would look through an empty paper towel roll and pretend it was a video camera while the other one sat at the table and read made-up news stories. I just knew that one day I would be a reporter for real, or at least a journalist of some sort. My dad's house had a huge magnolia tree in the front yard, and I can remember playing under it countless times as a child. The long leafy branches made a fabulous fort. I also remember my older sister climbing it and getting stuck near the top. It was a a very tall tree. My Barbies all had names and varying personalities. My pound puppies were my real dogs, and I pulled them around on a leash. I also slept with the mama pound puppy one night with gum in my mouth, and I woke up the next morning with dried gum strung all over her head. It never came off. I had an amazing imagination as a kid, and it does my heart good to hear my own kids using theirs. I give Tally full credit for teaching Hunter how to pretend. She lives in a world of pixie dust, where arabesques happen spontaneously, and she probably wonders why everyone else doesn't suddenly twirl around unexpectedly like she does. As I sit here in the living room typing this blog, I can hear her playing with Hunter in the other room. The futon is a ship, and there are sharks in the water. I don't usually approve of them playing on my desk chair, but at this moment it serves as a boat that will roll them across the water to the island. Hunter plays along excitedly and is just thrilled to have his sister's attention and to feel needed in her imaginary world. I often find him playing with his cars, giving each of them a voice and playing out different scenarios like Tally does with her Barbies. That is most definitely indicative of her influence. It makes me wonder . . . did I have the same effect on MY younger siblings? Did I unknowingly teach my little sister how to pretend? Or is it something that comes naturally? Regardless, I am waiting for the day that one of my kids has an imaginary friend. Hunter  has an imaginary monster that seems to come and go, but mine was so real I can still see her face. Kristi Ernie was her name. She was Vietnamese and lived in the house down the street. She visited often, and when we moved to a new town, she still visited frequently. She visited, that is, until my mom sent her home one day. Kristi Ernie refused to get out of my older sister's bed, and we were arguing about it. My sister was NOT happy that Kristi Ernie was in her bed to begin with, so she was yelling at me to get her out. Finally, my mom came in the room, and for the first time, she spoke directly to Kristi Ernie herself. She demanded that she get out of my sister's bed, and she told her to go home. That was the last time I saw Kristi Ernie. I can only hope to have to speak to my own children's imaginary friend. That just might do my heart good again.

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