Is my toddler lonely if she has an imaginary friend?

Sometimes your child says or does something really good (like winning an award at school for always using her manners) and you can’t help but credit your parenting.

Like when the Goal Attack tries not to smile as she jogs back to her position after shooting a goal.

But for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That is, every now and then an opportunity arises to question your parenting.

I thought it was really cute that Maeve had an imaginary friend. Elsie had one too, but she wasn’t around much and, in fact, I probably wouldn’t have remembered except that Elsie’s description of her striking friend stuck with me.

‘She’s wearing a blue top and red jeans and she has black skin, blue eyes and long white hair.’

Memorable, yes?

Maeve’s pretend friend (‘fren ten’) is her daily companion. They take baths together and can be heard taking turns in the toilet.

They have fun at the beach:

and at the park:

In a café the other day, I told the waitress a second time that we’d be back to our unfinished meals. I picked up my handbag, shopping bag and the girls’ drinkers and told Elsie that no, she had to come with us to the toilet too.

As I lifted Maeve off the toilet and pulled her jeans back up, I muttered, ‘Well why’d you say you needed to go to the toilet if you didn’t?’

To which she replied, ‘I didn’t. Fren ten did.’

I just had to stop writing this while I Googled ‘imaginary friend’, because the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if I’d read a child psychologist saying:

‘Your child is craving friendship. Enrol in your local playgroup, send her to childcare or go and visit someone with kids. Your parenting is questionable.’

I don’t remember having a pretend friend. I do remember, though, wishing so badly that one of the tall spindly gum trees outside our yard was a Faraway Tree. My Mum couldn’t have called on Google for clarification, encouragement, backing or reinforcement and instead probably celebrated my imagination.

Okay Maeve, you’re off the hook. Apparently you’re a normal, creative, imaginative kid. And I did know all that. You’re also hilarious. We get daily belly laughs from your personality and character.

Now. Would you and your friend like some cake?

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