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?