Friendly Imagination

Friendly Imagination


My daughter has this imaginary friend called Babella. This "friend" made her first appearance when my daughter started attributing a series of random facts and skills to Babella.

When she surprised us by declaring that the Moon orbits the Earth, we asked her where learned that. "Babella told me." When she did a new dance move, we learned that it was again Babella who had taught her.

My wife and I figured that it was just stuff my daughter was picking up in school; that she was just pinning it on an imaginary friend.

Babella's backstory grew over time, and she's apparently Korean (although her name sounds Spanish). She has this favorite red dress and... she's my daughter's sister. Yup, they're now related.

We thought it was pretty cute and harmless. After all, everyone has had an imaginary friend, right? My friend Simon talks about this hot girl he met online, and is currently dating, but nobody's ever seen her in person.

We decided that Babella was merely a figment of my daughter's vivid imagination and not any kind of sinister affliction (parents really do worry like this). Life went on.

It's situations like this that make me think about the phenomenon of imaginary friends. When you're young, it could be a good influence. Take Santa Claus. I like Santa because even though he gets the credit for the presents that I work my butt off to pay for, he projects an authority that I don't.

If you tell your kid that you'll get angry if they continue sticking cotton buds into your Xbox, they don't really care. But if they risk the wrath of Santa, and the possibility of no presents, jamming things into Xbox suddenly isn't so important anymore.

Santa may not be real, like the Easter Bunny, though his influence certainly is.

But what if my daughter studies hard for an exam, and then gives credit to Babella? What if Babella becomes something like Dumbo's feather - a crutch?

It's true that we all need something to believe in. But we also have to believe in ourselves too. We should grow to want to do good deeds simply because we want to be good people, not because Santa will leave a lump of coal in your sock otherwise.

For now, we'll preserve the illusion for a little longer, as a lively imagination is as precious as innocence.

And besides, there's nothing cuter than when your kids leave milk and cookies for jolly Santa - then we as parents play along to ensure an empty cup and half-eaten cookies are waiting in the morning!

This article was first featured in NSMAN Magazine (Mar/Apr 2018) Issue.

You can find the article and magazine issues online via the NSman app.

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