Morgan Kate has a very special friend. MK calls her Dabba. They play together often. They have tea and color. They talk non-stop, some days on the couch and some days over the phone. Morgan Kate shares many, many stories with us about Dabba. And occasionally she will even blame things on Dabba. Dabba has been known to shred a styrofoam cup to pieces and even break our home phone.
There's just one small problem. We've never, ever seen Dabba. She is Morgan Kate's imaginary friend. No lie. Morgan Kate has talked about Dabba for quite some time, probably a year or more. For months Morgan Kate would just say Dabba and then a bunch of gibberish. Travis and I couldn't wait until she was old enough to tell us more about Dabba. Was Dabba a toy or a place? We never imagined that Dabba would be a friend. About four or five months ago, once Morgan Kate could really talk, we asked about Dabba. The conversation went a little like this:
Me: Baby, what's Dabba? Or who is Dabba?
MK: My fin.
Me: Your friend?
Me: Is Dabba a boy or a girl?
MK: A gul.
Me: Does Dabba go to Roddey's with you? (Knowing full well there is no child with a name even close to Dabba.)
MK: Mommy, no.
Me: Well where is Dabba?
MK: Mommy, right here, play wif me. (Like duh, Mommy.)
Me: Ooohh. Dabba is here with us?
MK: Yeah. We are playin.
MK: Mommy, shhh. Dabba is sleepin.
I immediately run for the phone and call Travis. I tell him about my little conversation with Morgan Kate and he is relieved. He is so excited that we finally know who or what Dabba is. I, on the other hand, am not sure what to think. Is this okay? Should Morgan Kate have an imaginary friend? Is this normal? So, I do what any good mother would do. I google children with imaginary friends.
These are some of the things I found:
Don't worry, your toddler is not only normal, she's also very creative. Her burgeoning imagination fuels this wonderful fictitious creation, someone who accompanies her as she explores the world. Firstborns often have imaginary friends, as do very bright kids. It's one way children learn to make distinctions between good and bad.
Okay, Morgan Kate is a first born. And you better believe my girl is bright. I can definitely see that she is creative. Maybe imaginary friends aren't so strange after all.
Children with make-believe friends tend to be more imaginative, have richer vocabularies, and are better able to entertain themselves. Singer also discovered that children with imaginary friends get along better with classmates.
Again, this sounds great. More imaginative, richer vocabulary and better able to entertain herself. I can totally live with all of those things. Dabba needs to come play every single day. All day.
One researcher claimed that children who created companions needed more time with other children or help in getting along with them. As the research mounts, the theory that only children have invisible friends to compensate for their loneliness has little credence.
This person is stupid and has apparently never read the other research I found. But, I do agree with the last sentence. Amen.
According to Dr. Marjorie Taylor, Ph.D., author of Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them and Professor and Head of Psychology at the University of Oregon, children with imaginary companions tend to be less shy than their peers and are better able to focus their attention and see things from another person's perspective.
This woman is smart.
Imaginary friends are an extension of pretend play, which is a normal, healthy, important part of a young child’s development.
I couldn't have said it better.
Regardless of the research, the more I've thought about it and reflected upon my own childhood, I've decided that I'm perfectly okay with Dabba. It's fine for Morgan Kate to have an imaginary friend. And it's perfectly normal. As a child, I don't remember having an imaginary friend, but I do remember playing and talking with people that weren't really there in that moment. I pretended a lot and I used the names of real friends that I already had. And that's just what Morgan Kate is doing, except she's smart enough and creative enough to come up with a new person, a pretend person. She talks a lot about her real friends, but when they aren't around, she doesn't pretend that they are.
If Morgan Kate wants to talk with Dabba, then I am perfectly fine with it. If Dabba wants to come over for a snack and to color, that's fine too. If Dabba needs to nap, because she does quite frequently, then I'll lower my voice. Dabba can even go on trips with us. But, I draw the line when Dabba starts coloring on the walls and breaking things. Dabba has to learn the difference between right and wrong.