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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Imaginary Enemies

Some kids have imaginary friends. Mine have pretend enemies.

Maybe it's because they're twins and have a built-in playmate that they don't need to expand their social group to those characters solely in their minds. Or maybe it's because their loveys, Bear and Bean, are friends enough for them, the high-pitched squeals of the teddy bear and blanket often voicing the more babyish views of my growing children. When one of them is afraid of something, their lovey tells me that it's afraid. When they want to throw tantrums, it's Bear or Bean at the forefront, doing the most misbehaving. Any notion my children deem beneath them is awarded to their loveys.

Of course, the stuffed animal and battered blanket are also the girls' main audience for their shows. They're the object of many feedings, and naps. Many times, the loveys will find themselves cordoned off in the bedroom while the girls "go to the gym" or "go grocery shopping."

The imaginary enemies, though, are different. The witch and the monster have traditional roles in our household. They intimidate the twins, compelling them to call out a warning to me or their daddy should we wander too far outside at night. They're the evil ones that my girls are convinced will try to get them in their sleep.

These are all things I expected.

What took me by surprise is the new game that's popped up in the past few weeks or so.

Giving the characters voices, much like they do for Bear and Bean, the girls will channel these malevolent ghouls, usually when they want to be bad.

There have been many dinners as of late where my husband and I have had to "kick the witch and monster back to the moon" so the girls could eat their meals.

"Mommy, the witch doesn't want me to eat my dinner," they'll say. Then they'll break into a gravelly voice. "No! Dulce will not eat her dinner. I am the witch, and I say no."

"Go away, witch," is the standard reply. "You have no power here."

And then we can continue our meal.

Sometimes, the girls will ask me if I love the witch, or if I'll hug her,. I usually say, "Well, if the witch would be good, I would think about it."

When I tell them I love them out of the blue, they'll say "I love you, too." But over the past few weeks, they've then paused, thought about it and asked, "Do you love the witch, too?" I'll usually say no. I don't know if that's the right answer.

What if they are looking for validation that I'll love them when they're good and when they're bad? But, then again, what if they don't want me to love the thing that torments them and causes them fear?

I'll give them a hug. "But you won't hug the witch, are you?"

"No, I won't hug the witch."

With imaginary friends like these, who needs enemies?

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