I have talked about Gia’s imaginary friends before. None of my other kids ever had imaginary friends. I’m thinking it was because Nico had my undivided attention for the first three and a half years of his life and the twins had each other and Nico. With the age gap being so big between Gia and the twins, I have been known to tell Gia to go play or find something to play with. She must have heard find someone to play with because before I knew it, she was talking to someone named, Booty. And if that wasn’t strange enough, she added, Ella Bella and Allie.
I’m not sure what is sadder: that Gia has three imaginary friends with those names or that I hate them so much.
Gia is the only person I know whose imaginary friends are mean. She’s always coming up to me complaining that one of them has hit, bit, kicked or scratched her. How am I supposed to handle that? I’ve asked her why they keep hurting her and she says they are mean. I have told her that she shouldn’t be friends with them and she says that they want to be friends with her so I find myself saying things like, “Booty needs to go home” or “Tell Ella Bella that you don’t like when she hits you.”
When I’d ask Gia to do something and she didn’t want to, she’d reply with, “Booty won’t let me.” I would call her to come eat and she’d be playing a game or watching TV and she wouldn’t come. I’d call her again and again and the last time wouldn’t be in my nicest voice and she’d stomp her foot and say, “I wanted to come but Ella Bella wouldn’t let me. She held me back.”
A big one was when I’d be a little firmer in talking to her. Not yelling but talking in a way that she knew I wasn’t happy or I was tired of asking and she’d start to cry. I’d tell her that there is no reason to cry, that she wasn’t in trouble but that she needed to listen to me or follow directions. Between sobs she’d say, “I’m not crying because of you! I’m crying because Booty tripped me (or hit me, or yelled at me)!” I would end up comforting her and the crying would stop and all was well again.
There was the standard, “Allie made the mess, not me,” “Booty spilled, not me,” and “Ella Bella made me eat the cookies.” I have to tell you…there were many times when I questioned my sanity for yelling at the imaginary friends and exhausted myself trying to explain to Gia that I knew that she was the one that did it, not her friends only to get into a “yes they did, “no they didn’t” argument.
My favorite was when I needed to get work done and she was whining that she wanted me to play with her or she didn’t have anyone to play with. I’d tell her, “Go play with Booty, Ella Bella or Allie” and she’d reply with, “You know, Mom, they aren’t real.” Ahhh…so they are real when they spill or make messes but when I need her to play with them, they aren’t. Got it.
Once, I used them to my advantage. It was late and way past a normal time for a preschooler to be going to bed. I was really frustrated trying to get some work done and exhausted from the bed time battles (with all four kids) and I ended up yelling at Gia. Believe it or not, I don’t usually yell at Gia. The other three know me as a yelling mom (I can’t change that but I am really trying) but with Gia, I have really tried to hold my tongue and have more patience. She, of course, was devastated and ran to her room as if I had broken her little heart. I felt awful. An idea came to me and I went to her and whispered, “Allie made me do it.” Was it the right thing to do? Probably not but she stopped crying immediately and nodded her head in understanding. Moment diffused.
Nothing, though, prepared me for how much I wanted to get rid of them after this incident:
Belle and Gia were looking at Instagram (the Devil’s playground) and one of the people who Belle follows reposted an inappropriate picture with a woman with her boobs blurred out so you couldn’t see them but clearly knew they were boobs. Belle panicked and changed it right away (yelling…because that won’t call attention to it or anything). Gia said, “They were having sex.” Belle, shocked, asked her, “How do you know about that?” Gia–my sweet baby that I want to stay a baby–answered,
“Booty and Ella Bella have sex.”
Belle was shocked and said, “Gia! That’s gross!” To which Gia replied, “Well, I didn’t watch or anything.” As if that made it okay. Once again, that Mother of the Year award escapes me. Clearly, a few changes needed to be made.
No more Friends episodes.
Only rated G movies.
You know what bugs me, though? Commercials. We could be watching something like American Idol or The Voice and a preview for a show comes on and of course there is some glimpse of two people kissing wrapped in sheets. I don’t want to be one of those people who is up in arms about censoring everything. It’s my choice to have my kids watch those shows so I need to just deal with that situation as it comes up but the question arises: Are there any shows on network TV that we can watch as a family without having to yell, “Shut your eyes!” or getting into a big discussion about sex? I’m all for watching TV and using it as learning lessons but sometimes, I’d like to check out and watch a singing competition without having to be on alert.
After explaining to Gia that Booty and Ella Bella having sex was inappropriate (again, did I really have that conversation?), I thought that it might be time to get rid of the “friends”. I agonized how to do it and not damage her little psyche. I didn’t want her to end up on a therapist’s couch (fine, she probably will anyway but I didn’t want this to be the reason) saying, “My mom made me get rid of my only friends, Booty, Ella Bella and Allie.”
It turns out that I worried for nothing. Gia came downstairs and said, “I’m sick of Booty getting me in trouble and being mean. He’s gone and he’s never coming back.” This led to flushing Ella Bella down the toilet and scooping up Allie and throwing her outside. Gone. I have no idea if this was the right way to handle it but it feels a lot better hearing her take responsibility for messes and spills and dealing with her emotions because they are hers and not Booty’s.
And just when I was starting to like using them as reasons for my bad behavior…guess I’ll have to own up, too.
What about you or your kids? Any imaginary friends? Are they nice ones or mean ones?