Monday, May 9, 2011

No stealing imaginary friends

We attended a party this weekend where there were three other three-year-old boys. One is an aggressive child who frequently tackles other children. One has been quite sweet when I’ve seen him in the past, but seemed susceptible to influence from the aggressive one. And one, who I hadn’t met before, was described by his parents as gentle.

Gentle boy has imaginary friends, including an imaginary sheep. While the three of them were playing outside, gentle boy began to cry, saying that the other boys had stolen his imaginary friend. No one saw it happen, so not much was done besides his parents comforting him.

Later, when we were all inside, I heard the usually sweet boy run past gentle boy and tell him he was stealing his imaginary friend. The gentle boy began to cry.

Sweet boy’s father pulled him aside. “I want you to go return the imaginary sheep and say you are sorry.”

So this boy walks back to the crying child, carrying an imaginary sheep in his outstretched arms.

“Here you are,” he said, as he placed it beside gentle boy. “Sorry.”

That was the funniest interaction I’ve seen among toddlers. Mark thought that gentle boy should have had more confidence in his imaginary friends that they would stick by him. Some of the parents wondered how they could know if their kids were stealing imaginary friends. The parents were put on the spot – how do you enforce typical rules and values as applied to imaginary creatures?

Have you come across any interactions among kids lately that have made you laugh?

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