Twins and Imaginary Friends: When Three or More is Not a Crowd

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Twin School

My daughter's imaginary friend came to live with us when she was three, making the room she shared with her twin brother a bit cramped. You know, three kids, two with corporal bodies and one with a personality larger than life squeezed into a tiny bedroom makes it difficult for a smooth bedtime routine. But we all rallied because we loved Bronner simply because she was an extension of my daughter (being, of course, a product of her imagination).

Bronner (and Bronner's imaginary friend turned imaginary twin in later incarnations, Ursula) accompanied us on family vacations, trips to the food store, and library story hours. It was always easier to appease my daughter and "hold" Bronner's hand rather than have my daughter stand on the sidewalk and scream to the masses that I must want Bronner to run over by a car and diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiie (all the while, my eyes darting around furiously for members of Imaginary Child Protective Services to come and arrest me). I made countless meals for Bronner, meals that were later served to my husband who ate Bronner's leftover peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.

And then one day, Bronner disappeared. She went wherever imaginary friends hang out when their owners don't need them. And her fun-seeking twin, Ursula, went with her.

So imagine our surprise when Bronner returned a few weeks ago after a year's absence, bringing with her Ursula and a penchant for eating monkey (this was a new and disturbing development). She brought with her a handful of imaginary friends for my son as well--Jancefer Birdie, Luke, Skype, and Hans (it's a little game of spot the Star Wars and software obsessions). And suddenly, our popular twins who have more real friends than we can possibly have weekly playdates to see, were entertaining a menagerie of imaginary ones.

Which begged the question: aren't twins with their own built-in companion sort of immune to the need of imaginary friends?

It turns out that there we're not the only ones wondering about this. Me Too You recently wrote about her boy/girl twins' imaginary friend, Charlie, asking, "For me, this was just a phase that passed. It WAS strange that twins seemed to need an imaginary friend. I mean, isn't it enough that they have each other?"

Yet according to Marjorie Taylor in the article "The Real Reasons Kids Create Imaginary Friends," even twins can share one or have their own because imaginary friends aren't there to fill a void--they are there because imaginary friends are fun.

I think the nicest thing that has come from Bronner's return is how it has made others remember their imaginary friends, such as The View From Here who mused recently on her long-lost friend, Lisa.

Oh she was a great friend. She had dark hair and brown eyes (sort of like the real Lisa) and she didn’t look anything like anyone in our family. She lived in this little shack of a house that stood off in the field next to a big tree (this shack really existed just off of Raven Rock Road, mind you) and her parents didn’t do a very good job of looking after her, which is why she really liked coming over to spend the night at our house — where my Mama indulged me and took care of Lisa, just as she took care of me. Lisa had a bunch of siblings, but she didn’t like them as much as she liked me because, well, they were mean to her and her brothers tore up her baby dolls. I had Sylvester house slippers back then, (yes, I know you are jealous) and, Lisa did too. We matched that way.

Bronner has brought back memories of my own imaginary posse. Henry, the imaginary film projectionist; Andi and Emmi, imaginary twins; and Sonly, my first crush.

Now realizing that imaginary friends come from fun instead of loneliness, I'm considering sending out the clarion call for my own imaginary posse's return. After all, if there is room in the twins' room for my two kids, Bronner, Ursula, Jancefer Birdie, Luke, Skype, and Hans, there is also room in my bed for Henry, Andi, Emmi, and Sonly to sleep with me and my husband.


Tell me about your old imaginary friends or the ones who are currently residing in your house. And anyone else with twins who have imaginary friends?

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her book is Navigating the Land of If.


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