Destroying Your Imaginary Friends

The other day, my child destroyed her imaginary friend. She told him that he wasn’t real and she, in fact, had created him. It was, if you have seen the movie, a bit of a Ruby Sparks moment, although she did not make him bark like a dog to prove her mastery over him.

She does that in other ways. Button, who I call her semi-imaginary friend, is a male elf who sprang out of some deep, psychological need. Apparently, my daughter needed to have someone in her life who does bad things so she can: 1) prove her moral superiority and 2) punish someone. Yeah, kind of creepy, but I guess it gave a pre-schooler (Button materalized when she was about three and a half) some kind of control over her life.

I refer to Button as semi-imaginary because he doesn’t spring solely from her imagination. It’s a collaboration. I am constantly asked to tell stories about the ways he wreaks havoc. If my version is not sufficiently naughty (get your mind out of the gutter), she will interject and make Button more evil. He often beats up on her stuffed animals; she then rescues them and Button pays the price. Button has never gotten away with anything, and in fact has quite an extensive record. He has gone to jail about a hundred times and probably knows how to shank someone (although that has not yet–mercifully–factored into any stories).

Eventually, Button acquired a family–his mother, his father, and his two sisters (one of whom is a baby). All of them, you will be relieved to know, are good. Button is the black sheep of his family, and all the others are doted upon by my daughter, particularly the baby.

Button was particularly distraught to learn he was imaginary. After all, who wouldn’t be? You’re there, living your life, and BAM! You find out you aren’t real. I’ve always wanted to write a story about an imaginary friend, even before Button came into my life, but I’ve never quite hit on the ideal plot.

I once saw this short movie on TV, and bawled my eyes out. It was possibly the most touching film ever, and it was about imaginary friends. If you ever get a chance to see it, I highly recommend it.

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