Almost anyone, for instance, can create a character or made-up person. It’s fun, and it helps us navigate whatever issues we’re facing. For instance…
When my daughter Scarlett was four, my son Oliver was born. That year, Scarlett friended Katie. All of a sudden, she started talking about this great, awesome little girl she knew. There was no one with that name at her school, swim class or gym. I went through friend’s kids’s names in my head, but no. Katie was straight-up fake.
A couple other moms I talked to assured me that was normal. Scarlett started to talk about Katie a lot, and pretended to call and text message her. Apparently, Katie’s mom had really loose rules when it comes to her five year old’s amount of time on the phone. Whenever I was changing a diaper or spending time with the baby, Scarlett brought up Katie. Katie could do triple summersaults in a fraction of a second. Katie had won special badges for helping the government with some child spy work. Katie’s laugher had been patented into an iPhone ring tone. Hell, I wanted to be Katie!
Of course my mom was over once, and she, upon hearing all the shenanigans Kate was up to, suggested we splash some holy water all over the house. Yeah. She’d seen too many blockbusters where the imaginary friend was actually a ghost clinging to the world of the living. Listening to my mom go on and on about all the scary movies she’d seen made me realize that 1) That one with Robert De Niro was a flop. What did they think, to cast Rebecca Romin as his wife? 2) My mom is a rock star when it comes to remembering movies’ synopsis, even if they are forty years old. Her age, though, she can’t ever recall.
So. Katie claimed even a seat at the dinner table. According to Scarlett, not only was Katie cool, playful, outgoing… her mom let her do tons of stuff I didn’t let Scarlett. Of course.
A light bulb was finally lit. One day, as a jealous Scarlett was whining over all the attention her brother was getting (as if), I said, “You know, Katie has a baby brother and she’s very sweet to him. I know that for a fact. I called Katie’s mom and we chatted.”
Scarlett folded her arms and said, “Katie doesn’t exist. I made her up.” And just like that, Katie was gone from our lives. Weird, isn’t it?
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