A post by @erickaclay about evil twins made me think about the imaginary friend I had when I was a boy. My imaginary friend's name was Thomas. I don't remember a lot of details about Thomas, but I'm generally aware that he once existed. My parents and sisters love to tell me stories about my play with Thomas -- the tales become more incredible each time they repeat them, so I don't know how much to believe!
As best I recall, Thomas was a lot like me. We were equals, and neither of us could boss the other around. Thomas was not really an evil version of me, although I'm told I sometimes threw him under the bus for bad things that happened. That was not a noble thing to do, I admit; however, I understand that I would encourage my Mom not to think badly of Thomas, that whatever he had done was all just a big mistake! Haha!
I did not project a physical form to Thomas, and I did not assume that others could see him. I didn't talk a lot to Thomas (which I read is more common with girls than boys). I mostly interacted with Thomas while playing. For example, if I was a super-hero, Thomas would be the super-villain; the interesting thing is that Thomas and I more/less knew we were role-playing the super characters, but I didn't believe I was role-playing Thomas!
I believe that when I was a kid, there were some parents who discouraged their children from having an imaginary friend. However, my parents were cool with it, and it appears that they made the right choice. As the article, "Imaginary Friends", on the Babble.com website points out:
"But the tables have turned, with psychologists touting pretend friends as boosters for language and social skills. Last year a study from La Trobe University in Melbourne found that three- to six-year-olds with imaginary friends were more creative and socially advanced. Earlier studies had shown that kids with imaginary pals use more complex sentence structure, have richer vocabularies, and get along better with classmates."
I suspect that lots of Ellovites had imaginary friends when they were kids. According to the Wikipedia entry on "Imaginary friend" (which is quite interesting overall, by the way), studies have found that "fiction writers are more likely than average to have had imaginary companions as children." I wonder if this holds true for a broad range of "creatives" also?
And I also wonder where my imaginary friend, Thomas, has gone? According to Wikipedia, "Some psychologists have suggested that older children may retain but stop speaking about imaginary friends due to adult expectations and peer pressure."
Hello, Thomas. Where did you go? Were you imaginary or real? Are you still out there?
Image: From SodaHead.com