"You can't sit there, Mom. Harry is already sitting there," said Gracie, 4, as I placed my plate on the table and prepared to sit down on the chair next to her. I rolled my eyes. Harry has a thing for sitting down in my seat at every single meal. Apparently, he likes sitting in between Gracie and Hermione... which means he is always sitting in my seat.
So, like I do at every meal we have had for the last two months, I replied,"Gracie, you know that Harry has to sit on the couch when we are eating dinner."
Gracie sighed and looked at Harry. "Sorry, Harry. You have to sit on the couch," she said. So Harry got up and I sat down and I ate my lunch in an imaginary friend-free zone.
A mom has got to have imaginary friend groundrules, after all.
To date, Gracie has 12 imaginary friends.
Mr.Tumnus has intestinal distress and never leaves the bathroom, so he isn't much of a playmate, but for the most part, 11 of her friends are with her always, wreaking havoc on my life... and filling hers with magic and adventure.
It began with her Chronicles of Narnia companions, who appeared in our lives several months ago. Gracie was following me around one day while I was tidying up the house, cooking lunch, packaging orders... much as she usually does.
"Can you play with me, now, Mom?" I heard on repeat every 35 seconds.
"Go play with your sister, Gracie," I kept saying. She didn't want to, of course. Who can blame her? Annelie doesn't share her toys and is constantly biting and scratching - not much fun as a playmate.
"Why don't you go play with Soren Lorenson?" I asked. (Soren Lorenson is Lola's imaginary friend in the show Charlie and Lola aka The Only Cartoon I Can Tolerate). Well, he is good enough for Lola, so it was worth a shot.
"Soren Lorenson is just make-believe," Gracie sensibly replied.
*sigh* "Just give me 5 more minutes, please." I was begging at this point.
And that was when Lucy and Susan and Edmund and Peter and Mr. Tumnus came into our lives. They haven't left. Poor Lucy has a hurt foot. Gracie isn't sure how it happened, but it is constantly bleeding. Peter's favorite food is spaghetti, so he is always eating it. Susan is Gracie's very, very best friend because she likes her the best, and Edmund's favorite activity is art.
When Gracie eats macaroni and cheese for lunch, she asks, "Where is Peter's bowl?" He has one, Gracie. It's just invisible. "Mom, I need a band-aid. Lucy's foot is bleeding again and she is crying." Here you go, Gracie. An invisible band-aid. Perfect.
Peter Pan, Wendy, Michael, and John joined the Narnia pals a couple of months ago. Yes, I find it confusing to keep Peter (of Narnia) and Peter (of Neverland) straight.
And a few weeks ago, Harry, Ron and Hermione joined the ranks of Gracie's B(I)FF. Our house is a very crowded place. Gracie always knows where her friends are, but I tend to trod on their feet, or sit down on top of them when I'm not paying attention.
Despite Harry's issues with sitting in my seat, despite the temper-tantrums that Hermione throws when she has to pick up her toys, despite me needing to fetch Lucy a band-aid several times a day (when is that foot going to stop bleeding, for heaven's sake??), despite feeling weird that Mr. Tumnus spends all of his time in our bathroom (seriously, James McAvoy as a half-goat man in my bathroom... that is very unsettling) -- despite all that, I'm not gonna lie... I love the imaginary friends in our house. And not just because I don't have a 4 year old shadow trailing me at all times, but because I'm really seeing Gracie's imagination coming out. She knows they are just make-believe. She isn't having delusions, I promise. But she is happily creating a world for herself and her very best "friends" and it is so much fun to watch the adventures they have unfold.
Gracie reminds me a lot of myself as a little girl, actually. I spent hours playing with my fairy friends, as I built them a village of their own on our side yard. The neighborhood kids were all boys and if it wasn't for my imagination and the "friends" I created for myself, I would have been pretty lonely.
I don't expect Annelie to be a rotten little stinker of a playmate for too much longer. I have high hopes that my daughters will happily play together soon. But in the meantime, I don't mind the new Narnia, Neverland, and Hogwarts residents who have come to live with us. They certainly make life interesting!