In my book, The Right Side of Normal, I talk about imaginary friends being a representation of a right-brained child’s highly developed imagination. I also talk about the idea that right-brained children can view stuffed animals and toys as “real” ala Toy Story and The Velveteen Rabbit. Both my oldest artist son and my writer daughter enjoyed a strong attachment to their stuffed animals, but it wasn’t until my youngest dynamo son that I saw it taken to a whole other level.
It’s been at least five years, because this picture was taken shortly after we moved into our country home. You may have to look closely to see Teddy tucked down in there with him. He would have been seven years old here.
Most of his “best friends” have been teddy bears. Unfortunately, like the Velveteen Rabbit, these teddy bears get so aggressively loved at times, they don’t make it. This is something different from my two older children. On the other hand, my dynamo son is, well, a dynamo. But, he actually can have a whole crew of animals at his disposal. From a hand puppet hippo (who didn’t make it either), to dogs, elephants, penguins, owls, beavers, and horses. If they come into his possession, they make the clan.
But, he always has a favorite. And that favorite is part of his life. It’s not a matter of him saying, “Oh, let me have him to play with right now.” From the moment he wakes up to the time he goes to sleep, he is his constant companion.
The only time he doesn’t bring his stuffed animal imaginary friend with him is in public. But, he brings him in the car to and from the event, and if he feels the people involved would accept his “friend,” he’ll bring him along. In fact, at a homeschool corn maze gathering, he had his little pocket-sized elephant in his pocket (see the homeschool time picture).
His characterizations of his stuffed animal imaginary friends are quite elaborate and life-like. He knows I love his guys, and certainly they come in handy with motivating him to do various things. If my son doesn’t want to do something, I can always ask his teddy, who always has a willing heart. His soft-hearted bear also can help my son soften his own heart when he often has a more push-back oriented personality with his dynamo personality. It seems to make his emotional transitions easier if he has a buffer to work from indirectly.
I’ll miss when this stage is over…