Results of a study into children’s imaginary friends have recently been published, and apparently they’re not such a bad thing as people always thought.
Funny thing is, as someone whose parents never made a big deal of my imaginary friends, it never occurred to me that they might be considered unhealthy.
My imaginary friends were Bibo and Da. One of them (don’t ask me which) had a blue square head, and the other one had an orange triangle head. Can you tell I was in preschool at the time? Bibo and Da didn’t always get along.
Eventually I added more friends: Kaa the snake living in our backyard (The Jungle Book was one of my favorite movies) and a wolf named Christian followed me around to protect me (he appeared to me in a dream one night).
As I grew older, I said goodbye to these friends and let them go. But my imaginary life stayed vibrant.
In the study, 9% of 12-year-olds surveyed admitted to still having an imaginary friend. I wouldn’t have been among them – in that I wouldn’t have admitted to it when I was 12 – but I did have a very active imagination. By then my pretend friends were real life people – The New Kids on the Block (yes, I’ll admit it) – and in my mind they were my best friends in the world. Okay, let’s be honest…they worshiped me. I created complex stories featuring them.
I don’t know where these researchers plan to go from here, but I hope they’ll follow those kids for another twenty years. I’d be willing to bet those 12-year-olds who still have imaginary friends grow up to be creative people.
Did you have imaginary friends? What do you remember about them? How old were you when your imaginary friends gave way to more realistic fantasies?