I just found out today that my 5-year-old has an invisible friend. She is our baby and this is the first of our 4 children that has had an imaginary friend. We were raking leaves and picking up the front lawn when she said, “Boy, am I glad Kayla isn’t here.” I then asked, “Who’s Kayla? Is she a friend from school?” My daughter responded with slight irritation in her voice, “No, Mom! Kayla is my invisible friend. She HATES helping around the house and especially HATES brushing her teeth! I don’t think you would really like her.”
I was stunned. And to be honest, worried. Was she describing a part of her that she thought I didn’t like? Am I too hard on her about brushing her teeth and picking up her room? Tears welled up in my eyes and my heart began to ache.
I never had an imaginary friend as a child. I had siblings. Why would I need an imaginary friend? But my daughter has 3 siblings and still has a need to have someone else in her life. What was that need? What happened? How do I fill it? I’m supposed to be their constant, their rock! I want to be everything my children need! They already endure so much with Daddy being away, moving every couple of years, switching schools, joining new clubs and sport teams, and making new friends.
After I collected myself, I proceeded to ask a couple of the questions that were swimming around in my head.
“Where did you meet Kayla?”
At the park by our house.
“When did you first meet her?”
The first time our babysitter took us there this summer. Kayla was at the park and she asked if I wanted to ride the sea-saw.
“Do you play with Kayla at school?
Yeah, she LOVES recess! And don’t tell her I told you, but she’s kinda messy in Art.
“What about your friends at school? Do you play with them at recess?”
“So your friends at school have met Kayla?”
NO MOM!!! Ugh! Don’t you remember she’s INVISIBLE?! MY FRIENDS CAN’T SEE HER!
Melody started Kindergarten this year. Last year, she went to half-day preschool 5 days a week. I was a stay-at-home Momma, and we spent every afternoon together. This past summer, I started a part-time position, which required a sitter during the day. So she no longer had the one-on-one time we had enjoyed. This is when her new friend, Kayla, entered her life.
Kids feel change, too! They have many of the same emotions we experience as adults. And even as adults, we respond differently to change. Allow our kiddos to be kids. Let them explore their emotions. Try to understand how they are coping and dealing with change. Listen when they decide to open up and share their thoughts and feelings. And most of all…give them extra hugs.
How have your children dealt with the changes that come with being a military kid?