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.

Casper, the Friendly Disciplinarian

Jane has reached the age where she quickly hides whatever she is doing anytime I unexpectedly walk into the room. It doesn’t even matter if she’s doing something wrong or not. The phone gets tucked under the blanket. The Kindle gets hidden behind the bathroom cabinet. The hands go quickly behind the back.

Yesterday, I walked into her room and the paper she was writing on was suddenly turned upside down and her hand was placed firmly over it.

“What are you writing?”


“Yes, you are. What are you writing?”

“Nothing. It doesn’t apply to you. It’s nothing.”

Jane’s mother is an insanely curious person. Being none of my business does little to quench the curiosity. I sat down on her bed. “Who is it to?”

“No one. It’s nothing.” At this point she crumpled the paper up and clenched it in her fist. Oh, boy, now the curiosity was racing.

“If it’s nothing then why can’t I see it? Who are you writing to?”

“Myself. I’m writing to myself and it’s nothing.”

At this point, the mother part of me realized that she was very uncomfortable and I shouldn’t push. She wasn’t acting like she had done something wrong. She just seemed embarrassed. The curious part of me idly wondered if I might be able to sneak in and find it after she went to bed. “Ok, fine. If you don’t want me to read it, I won’t.”

She pressed the paper back out on her table and picked up the marker she was using. I walked out the door, wondering if I could live with not knowing what she was writing.

Today, I asked her again what she wrote about.

“Do you want to read it?” she asked.


“OK. You can read it.” She left the room and returned with the paper ball, which she threw at me with a smile. I read it and started laughing. Her father, grandmother, aunt, and her aunt’s boyfriend were all around the table. With her permission, I wadded the paper up and threw it to her dad, who read it and then wadded it up to throw it to her aunt, and so on until everyone had read it.

I got her permission to share it here after telling her that I found it very creative and a cute attempt to motivate herself. Before I share it, you must know that Jane has an imaginary friend named Casper. She knows he’s not real. At least, I think she does. Here’s the paper:


In case you can’t read it through the wrinkles, it says “Make your bed or you aren’t allowed to txt for 20 days!! I mean it! Love, Casper”

Her bed, by the way, was very nicely made this morning. I guess I need to take a page from Casper’s playbook. The threat of a texting ban was obviously effective.


Hal can be an entertaining traveling companion. Particularly if you like varied and interesting conversation. Allowing that the conversation doesn’t have to make sense, of course.

I picked him up from preschool yesterday. He retrieved the stuffed monkey from the floorboard as he climbed into the truck and informed me that its name is “Somo”.

“Wow,” I said as I started the engine. “That sounds a lot like Sobo-be-nye-nye, but shorter.” Sobo-be-nye-nye has been his best and closest imaginary friend for at least the last two years.

“Yes, except it’s Somo. Mommy, do you know what Somo is in Spanish?”

“No, I don’t. What is Somo in Spanish?”

“It’s Alpha-cop.”

“Really? I had no idea that’s what Somo was in Spanish.”

“Yep. It’s Alpha-cop.”

We traveled a bit further and then shortly before we were to get on the highway, he quietly said, “Mommy, I want you to pull over please.”


“Because I don’t feel good so I want you to pull over because I’m going to be sick.”

He didn’t look particularly sick and hadn’t acted in the least bit under the weather up to this point. I suspected that he was just imitating times his brother has claimed to be sick, so I didn’t pull over.

“What feels sick?”

“Well, because Rose [our dog] was licking me when I was a little baby and that’s why I’m sick now.”

“Hal, we didn’t have Rose when you were a little baby.”

“Well, that is what I call the kitty. And it is licking me and so that’s why I am sick.”

By this point, I had entered the highway and I didn’t bother pulling over. I didn’t think that kitty-dog licks were likely to cause vomiting, the primary motivation for stopping the car for a sick child.

“Mommy, why did they make birds?”

“Why did they make what?” (I had foolishly tried to shift my attention to the news on the radio.)

“Why did they make BIRDS?”

“Oh, well, ‘they’ don’t make birds, honey. Birds are born, just like us.”

He paused. “Well, they keep pooping on our window.”

“Well, honey, birds do good things too.” {Think fast, think fast, what benefit are birds besides being nice to watch…} “They help trees and flowers grow.”

“YAAAAYYYYY!!!! They are growing right now. They just need more sun.”

The truck and the conversation took a few more turns before we made it home and my chatterbox rushed inside to see his Daddy.