This morning, Hal brought up someone I had not heard him talk about in some time. As he ate his (by his choice) cold blueberry bagel with cream cheese, he propped up half of a bagel slice on one end.

“Mommy, this looks like Sobo-be-nye-nye’s house.”

Sobo-be-nye-nye has been his most constant imaginary friend for at least three years now. But I hadn’t heard mention of him in months. Maybe even a year.

The thought of a quarter bagel shaped house intrigued me. Hal had resumed eating said bagel, but I asked him a question.

“What is Sobo-be-nye-nye’s house made out of?”

He swallowed the food in his mouth before he answered matter-of-factly.

“It’s made out of wood and it has a candy roof. And his room has a nest in it and there are leaves that cover him to keep him warm.”

This imagery made me wonder what Sobo-be-nye-nye looks like. I had never really thought about it. I suppose I always assumed he was human. Although, I should mention that even though Hal always uses the male pronoun to describe his friend, he has usually been clear that Sobo-be-nye-nye is actually a girl.

“So… what does Sobo-be-nye-nye look like?”

He finished another bite and then said, “Well, he used to look like… a baby dragon… but now he’s grown up and he’s… an ant.”

“An ant?”

He nodded.

“He was a baby dragon and he grew into an ant?”

Another nod.

“That’s kind of strange.”

Yet another nod. There was no smiling or laughing or any other indication – other than some slight hesitations as he spoke – that he was making any of this up. Imaginary friends in general, but his in particular, fascinate me. I wish I could get into his head for just a minute and see what it’s like in there. It must be a place of magnificent wonder.

Bagel Burger

On our way home via a familiar route, my husband noticed that a new eating joint that he had been wanting to try was now open. At the last minute, he quickly turned. “Let’s eat here! I’ve been wanting to try it! I want a bagel burger.”


I glanced at the windows as I put on my shoes. I saw a picture of a hamburger on a regular bun. I saw pictures of donuts, bagels with cream cheese, a salad. No bagel burgers. I began to get suspicious, but the sign did seem to imply the kind of place he was hoping for, so I swallowed my reservations and headed to the door.

Upon entering, I found myself standing in a very typical donut shop, complete with the friendly Asian woman behind the counter. I scanned the menu quickly and saw that there were no bagel burgers. I began to ponder the merits of a croissant sandwich vs. a standard burger, when my husband entered the store.

“I’d like a bagel burger,” he announced to the woman behind the counter.

She stammered, “A bagel? Wait, I think we might be out. Hold on.”

I could tell she hadn’t understood what he asked for but before I could speak up, she returned. “We have a few bagels left. Only plain, blueberry, sesame seed, and wheat.”

“Ok,” he said, undaunted. “I’ll take one on a blueberry bagel.”

“You want a blueberry bagel?”

I started trying to get his attention. My frustration was rising. They were misunderstanding each other and the three children who had spent most of the morning and all of the previous day in the car were beginning to ratchet up the noise.

“Yes, I’d like a bagel burger on a blueberry bagel.”

“Ok. Do you want cream cheese?”

“Honey!” I whispered urgently, “They don’t have bagel burgers. She doesn’t understand what you are ordering.”

“They don’t?”

“No! Do you see bagel burgers anywhere on the menu?!”

“Oh.” He turned to the woman. “Can I get a hamburger but on a bagel?”

After some confusion, she agreed. During all of this, Hal was loudly calling “Daddy! Daddy!” and pulling on the front of his shirt. Daryl was repeatedly asking if he could get a fountain drink. Jane was moaning about how much she didn’t feel good. The woman was having trouble keeping track of everything that was being ordered and communication was sketchy.

I finally walked away and tried to calm down. When I get frustrated, I need things to be input to my brain one at a time. This isn’t possible with three children. Eventually, however, I had my croissant pig-in-a-blanket and bagel with cream cheese, although it took a couple of tries to get the right cream cheese. Jane had her hamburger and fries, while my husband had his on a blueberry bagel. Daryl got a blueberry bagel with cream cheese and a root beer. Hal rejoiced over his breakfast burrito and star-shaped donut with star sprinkles and an Iron Man ring on top.

“We don’t have to come back,” my husband said. “I take it you saw what kind of place it was before we came in.”

“I wasn’t sure or I would have said something but I definitely had my suspicions.”

And that was how we ended up having lunch at a donut shop. Before we left, I had managed to find my smile. But just barely.