Did you have an invisible friend when you were young? Do (or did) your kids have such a friend? I didn’t. I transferred my imagination to paper dolls and real dolls as a preschooler and play-acting with friends when I was a little older.
Now, of course, as an author, I have multitudes of imaginary friends! But instead of interacting with them, I limit myself to watching them and recording what they say and do so I can share them with you.
But little kids often have an invisible buddy. This doesn’t seem to depend on whether a child is otherwise loved and well-adjusted or not. In fact, more children likely have these alter egos than tell the adults in their lives about them.
I asked my Facebook friends to share stories and found they varied widely. The responses cemented my then-contemplative thought that the little boy in my upcoming novel Dandelions for Dinner: A Farm Fresh Romance 4 would have an imaginary friend.
I wasn’t prepared for the friend to show up in the guise of a dog… and that the little boy would be terrified of real dogs. You’ve read my books, right? What child would be afraid of Domino in Raspberries and Vinegar? Here’s an excerpt when Allison meets her abused nephew for the first time.
The pediatric nurse managed to get her bulk onto the carpet beside Finnley.
The little guy didn’t look up.
“Down, Rover. Stop growling. I’m here to see Finnley, not hurt him.”
Say what? Allison stared at the nurse. There was no dog.
“That’s a good boy, Rover. I’m glad you’re taking care of Finnley. He needs you.”
The car swished back and forth.
“Finnley’s Auntie Allison is here to see him. May she see him? I won’t let her hurt Finnley. She’s nice.”
Imaginary friends were one thing, but an imaginary guard dog that had to be placated? Was she expected to play along?
Yet the little boy’s solitude tore at her heart. How long had he imagined a protector? Why did he still believe, even when Rover obviously hadn’t kept John from hurting him?
She’d never been one for drama, for acting out. Except with her father. She shoved the thought back into the recesses of her mind and covered it up with pleasant thoughts, like imaginary guard dogs. She could do this.
Allison crouched down beside Marge and pretended to stroke a dog she couldn’t see. “Hi, Rover. I brought you a bone. We have a really nice dog on the farm where I live. His name is Domino because he’s all black and white.”
Marge shot her a nod of approval.
I’m spending a lot of time with Allison, her little nephew, and Rover these days. I’m praying you’ll find their story one of hope when you get your chance to read it in March.