Saturday, February 18, 2006

Blue

Last week, I experienced another “teacher first.” Motor Boy came to me with his journal a few days ago. He read his latest entry to me: “My imaginary friend is Blue. The best thing about my friend is that he always plays with me.” Under his words, there was a stick figure (Motor Boy) and a small, blue creature (looking a bit like Grimace, from McDonald’s – flipper like arms, rotund body, no discernable feet). “Good job,” I said, choosing not to acknowledge the word “imaginary” for the time being. “Go put your journal away and read your library book,” I said. He began to walk away, then stopped and turned to me with a smile. “Blue wants to talk to you,” he informed me. “He’s standing right there.” He gestured to the empty space next to my desk. At this point, I wasn’t sure if he was serious or if he was trying to see just how far he could take this joke. I decided to play along. “Does he need a translator, or will he be able to understand me?” I asked. “He’ll understand you,” MB assured me. Just then, our principal announced that it was time to head downstairs for an assembly, so I didn’t get to talk to Blue.

I thought the joke would end there. But it didn’t. After we came back from the assembly, Blue made several more appearances.

“Blue says he has to go to the bathroom,” MB said, while we were gathered on the rug for story time. “Okay…” I replied, thinking that MB had to use the bathroom and this was his clever way of asking me. “Do you want to take him?” MB laughed. “No,” he said. “He’s 18. He can go by himself.”

And later, he turned and spoke to thin air, “What’s your favorite color, Blue? Red? I like that color, too.”

He came to my desk twice with Blue-related inquiries. “Can we have an extra worksheet for Table Two? Blue needs one.” And, “She tripped Blue when he was walking past her desk. Shouldn’t she say she’s sorry?” (The girl in question gave me a look, as if to say, “Is he kidding me?”)

Before dismissal, he ambled over to my desk to chat some more. “Blue goes to dictator school,” he announced. “What’s dictator school?” I asked. “It’s a school where you learn how to do things. If he does his homework properly, he gets 17 days off from school in a row.” “Oh,” I said. “So he’ll be with us for awhile?” MB shook his head. “No, this is day 17. He goes back to dictator school tomorrow.”

In my six years of teaching, I’ve never had one of my students mention an imaginary friend. I’m not quite sure how to handle it. What struck me as odd is the detail he put into his story - the fact that Blue is 18 years old, and he goes to “dictator school.” I have it all documented, just in case. It will be interesting to see if any of this resurfaces next week. Has anyone ever been in this situation before? Any suggestions?

10 comments:

MsAbcMom said...

Oh Boy! All I can say is good luck! Is this child receiving counseling at all? Have you talked to his parents? Wow! I have had all kinds of emotionally disturbed kids but never any situation like this!

Hang in there.

Elizabeth said...

Does this seem like an emotionally disturbed child? I had 2 imaginary friends when I was a child. I was not emotionally distrubed. I never involved my teacher in it, but my parents were frequently pulled into the mix. In a journal she kept, my mom has written down a detailed description I gave her of one my imaginary friends. She was older than I and green. :) My friends were very real to me, but I still knew they were imaginary. I know from all the GT training I've been in that imaginary friends can be a sign of giftedness. He doesn't seem to be violent or twisted with his imaginings does he? I don't think imaginary friends always have to be an indication of an ED kid. Does he realize that Blue is only real to him?

Dree said...

Interesting. At first I thought it was just funny, then when he started giving all the details, I got worried about abuse. Imaginary friends could be a way to cope with some sort of trauma. But I never knew that imaginary friends can be a sign of giftedness. This child is very bright - one of my best readers and writers. He was actually writing a comic book in his spare time. He doesn't seem to be emotionally disturbed at all. I guess my question is, do I need to mention this to his parents, or just let it run its course?

Janet said...

I'm new here so I have to ask, how old is this child? I had a similar issue this year with one of my students. I teach third grade and I was disturbed bc in my opinion, she is too old to have imaginary friends. Not only that, but this went on for days.

Dree said...

I teach first grade - he's almost 7.

Janet said...

First grade is still too old for behavior like this, but in third I was even more worried. My student also requested extra materials for her "imaginary friend" and would get mad when people ignored her. Eventually she told me her imaginary friend died. I think she was "hit by a car". Unfortunately, this is just a small part of the extreme emotional instability this child experiences.:(

On a different note, thanks for the feedback on the songs!:)

Elizabeth said...

I never knew imaginary friends could be so controversial! :) I can't remember how old I was before I stopped "playing" with my imaginary friends. I'm an only child so they were often my only playmates. I am no expert in child pysychology, but as long as Blue doesn't become a problem and the boy is able to separate real from make-believe, I would let him enjoy his friend and "be a kid" as long as possible. Lots of kids have to grow up so fast these days. As you said, he's very bright and not emotionally distrubed. Mention it to his parents if you'd like, but not as a problem; rather as an interesting part of his personality. Let us know how things turn out...

nancy said...

I'm not a psychologist, just a mom with one child (grownup now); so even my experience isn't so broad. However, I don't think a 6-year-old who still has an imaginary friend is anything to worry much about unless there are other signs of emotional problems. This child must have a vivid imagination, may be an only child, and may spend chunks of time alone (so he has invented a playmate he can completely control!). Blue might not always be 18 or look this way; my daughter's IF changed to suit the needs she had at any given moment. I'll be interested in updates on this one. I would, though, begin to be concerned if the IF begins to display violent or perverse behavior.

SGZH said...

http://www.apa.org/monitor/jan05/imaginary.html

Late Nighter said...

Sounds like a cool kid to me. I had imaginary friends when I was really young too. Eileen and Bandaid... haha apparently one day my mom asked me about them and i told her that they had died. I hope you never encounter that situation! Awkward...