A child’s imagination can be a lonely place without an imaginary friend

Reading Eoin Colfer & Oliver Jeffers charming children’s book Imaginary Fred, the tale of a lonely imaginary friend, brought to mind my daughter and her own version – Ahsoka.

Star Wars fans will likely recognise the name of the famed Jedi knight and rebel fighter from cartoons and books. She has enthralled my daughter since first seeing her in The Clone Wars.  As a powerful, independent, confident, and loyal character, I couldn’t ask for a better imaginary companion for my daughter. 

My daughter’s friend is not the teenage or adult female version of Ahsoka. She is Ahsoka when she was a little girl, just like her. She is a part of our family, sitting with us at meal times, accompanying us when we’re out & about, sleeping in her room at night. Sometimes, my daughter leaves her home with me to look after.

She can also misbehave, which my daughter complains about because it annoys her. Ashoka often objects to things that we ask our daughter to do. For instance, me: “Do you want to come to the shops with me?”. Her: “Well, Ahsoka says she’s too tired to go.” When she can’t get to sleep, she blames Ahsoka who keeps talking to her. It is a real friendship, full of intrigue and dynamism.

Their relationship has evolved into becoming sisters, and we are her adopted parents. In context, all of this makes sense.

My daughter, unlike most of her friends, is an only child. And, much to her disappointment, she is likely to remain so. But she is a very social person, who loves spending time with her friends, and is constantly wanting to arrange playdates. She adores school because she gets to spend all day with them.

We do our best to play with her, crafts, LEGO, Star Wars, video games – but she has an emotional need for a playmate. With Ahsoka, they play dolls together, board games too. Sometimes they run around and chase each other.

In Imaginary Fred, the story develops that Fred (the imaginary), fades away into the clouds when a child makes a real friend – because he is not needed any more. But what has been an interesting development in my daughter, is that Ahsoka is becoming part of her playdates.

The other week we were in a playground with her best friend – her actual best friend, not the imaginary one. They were having a great time playing together, and when the activity turned to the imaginative, Ahsoka was brought into the game by my daughter. What really surprised me was her (real) best friend was going along with it too by involving Ahsoka in the game, and making sure she was ok.

I have worried – as parents are want to do – whether this focus on her imaginary friend is healthy. But this is only a fleeting concern. There have been many times when I have called her bluff on an Ahsoka excuse, and she has retorted “But Ahsoka’s only imaginary daddy…!”

I love our daughter’s imagination, fuelled by wonderful stories such as Imaginary Fred. Such an imagination is a wonderful thing, but it could be a lonely place to be in for too long – without an imaginary friend to share it with.

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‘Imaginary Fred’ is out now, and has an RRP of £12.99 hardback, or £7.99 paperback.

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with publisher Harper Collins. 

Family Fever

2 thoughts on “A child’s imagination can be a lonely place without an imaginary friend”

  1. Lovely post, Simon! I expect imaginary friends have been around since the dawn of, well, friendship… and they must provide a healthy way for a child to explore their emotions and relationships in a ‘controlled’ environment 😉 At least that’s my non-expert take on it! Ahsoka sounds like an empowering and comforting tool for your daughter, long may she live in her imagination.

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