Imaginary Fiends

My son has started playing pretend. With a vengeance.

And it’s freaking me out.

I’ve written before about the different ways my son has been able to frighten me in the past, with his creepy pronouncements at bedtime, or even the way he seems to notice things no one else can see.

parenting, toddlers, make believe, imagination, education, development, learning, toddlers, fatherhood, parentingMost of that stuff seemed accidental. But now that he’s almost two-and-a-half, he’s starting to use his imagination more and more. And hile it’s nice to see him getting creative, it can also be a little unsettling.

All the stupid parenting experts say it’s normal for kids to start playing make believe when they reach my son’s age. Creating scenarios, pretending to be someone else, acting like he’s having a conversation with his stuffed animals, pretending to eat invisible food, talking to imaginary friends; all of these things are part of a two-year-old’s normal development.

But that doesn’t stop my house from occasionally feeling like the Overlook Hotel.

The dude knocks on fake doors and pretends to open them. He puts out dishes with fake food on them and pretends to eat it. He talks to his stuffed dog and chats with his Elmo doll and puts his other dolls in a circle and has a dance party with them. All while I’m trapped in this apartment building, typing on my computer, not even daring to write the famous phrase from The Shining, even as a joke.

Let’s be honest: I’ve been at home with a toddler for close to a year now. Actually going crazy isn’t that far-fetched a scenario, so let’s not tempt fate by pretending to be nuts.

Again, it’s not my kid’s fault. Playing pretend is normal at this age, and it’s a nice break for us when he plays happily by himself. Besides, I’m sure he’ll continue to do it for years and I’ll eventually get used to it. I remember pretending to be superheroes and GI Joe characters and all that jazz, and even later pretending to be my favorite athletes and rock musicians when playing sports with my friends or singing in my bedroom.

Now that I’m on the other side, though, I’m starting to realize how freaking bizarre this make-believe stuff is when you’re not the one doing it. Seeing my son talk to inanimate objects or invisible friends occasionally gives me the willies.

Shining, Overlook Hotel, Kubrick, movies, Danny Torrance, Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duvall, Stephen King, horror, overlook, pop culture, parenting, all work and no playWhen it comes down to it, I’m happy to see my kid using his imagination like this; it’s kind of a blast watching him come up with such goofy stuff. And I know how important a good imagination is later in life, in just about every endeavor (assuming he doesn’t become an accountant). So I want to encourage it as much as I can.

But I’m keeping his tricycle locked away. And if he starts talking to any friends that live inside his mouth, it’s all over.

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2 thoughts on “Imaginary Fiends

  1. Ha, I never thought about how creepy some kids’ make believe can seem. I guess since I had an insanely active imagination as a child it seems pretty normal to me.

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