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Friday, January 16, 2009

My Blue Man

We have a new authority in our house. He knows all the rules. He knows everything there is to know about procedures, advice, the matching of outfits, the eating of vegetables, and the proper washing of hands. He is, in short, an Expert in the Universe.

Whenever Daughter announces, with confidence, some household rule ("First milk, then juice") or some preschool rule ("you have to take your boots off before you can go in Miss Tracey's room"), the conversation always goes the same way:

Daughter: [serenely spouts rule of choice, followed by] Isn't dat wight, Mama?

Me: That's right, sweetie.

Daughter: [nods like the All-Knowing Oz, smiling slightly.] Dat's wight. [nod grows more emphatic, as tone of voice becomes more firm] My Blue Man said so.

The first time I heard "My Blue Man" quoted as the authority on something, I was more than a little surprised. But since the guy seemed to have his head screwed on straight, I didn't quibble. He was, after all, helping reinforce the "eat all your vegetables before you get dessert" rule.

The next few times "My Blue Man" surfaced, I started thinking it was a little weird. But I quickly developed a Sophisticated Psychological Theory (based on no actual experience in the field of psychology) that she was using her Blue Man as a kind of surrogate authority figure to help her remember the rules of her little world. Her Blue Man helped confirm for her the things she might otherwise resist or forget; he was a placeholder for authority when I wasn't around. In short, I assumed he was helping her figure out boundaries.

Then, I began hearing the Blue Man quoted in all sorts of random and un-rule-like situations. "You have to wear your pink owl socks with your stripesy pants, wight Mama? My Blue Man said so." And "Mama and me like de stems [of broccoli] but Daddy and Brother don't, wight Mama? My Blue Man said so." And so on...

I don't know about your house, but in our house, we get to wear our pink owl socks anytime we like, and no one gets to tell us otherwise. And as for the Jack-Spratt-and-his-wife principles of broccoli eating, well, they aren't technically rules, so much as preferences. I was starting to think that this Blue Man was getting a little too uppity and overly-fond of making rules in situations that didn't really warrant rules.

Then I remembered that it's a little bit difficult to get all hard-nosed with an invisible friend (invisible policeman?), so I took a deep breath and decided to stand down. However, I did start wishing that My Blue Man were a little more like Nigi.

Nigi is Son's invisible pal. He started out very small, so that Son could carry him around easily in his pocket. For a while, he grew very quickly, so that by the time Son turned three, Nigi was the same size Son was. For a while, there was a whole Nigi family, but the mother and father and little sister quickly grew tiresome, so now we're back to just Nigi again. Sometimes Nigi is the same size and age as Son; sometimes he is far larger ("as tall as the house, Mama!"), and sometimes he conveniently shrinks, Alice-like, to be carried around neatly in Son's pocket. On those days, the pocket is in fact an entire house, and it can take some coaxing to get Nigi to leave behind the tv he's watching in there to come and join the fun.

But the thing I like best about Nigi is: he's no bossy boots. He grows and shrinks, gains and loses abilities, laughs, is entertained, and disappears completely at Son's will. That, I think, is as it should be. Aren't the invisible folks supposed to be about control and creativity, about building the world the way you want it, about having a confidante who will always agree with you, a playmate who is always around only when you want that person there, an unconditional friend? That is the beauty and the power of invented companions. They are a sort of extension of the nighttime "lovey" or teddy. They are endowed with bravery if the child is fearful, mischief if the child is meek, chattiness if the child is shy, and so on. They represent all the child is, as well as all the child wants to be. And, they can fit in a pocket, be manipulated and spoken for, so that the child is always in control.

Unless, of course, you are Daughter.

In which case, perhaps, you are mischevious, chatty, daring and rebellious enough, at two-and-a-half, that the most appealing kind of invisible friend you could possibly have is one that will give you some relief from the frenetic pace of hiding behind curtains when you've been told to "come here!" by bossing you around a little. It does seem counter-intuitive that a child who has a mother perfectly capable of nagging repeatedly to "put on your shoes" and "eat your carrots," should choose to invent an invisible friend who all about making rules.

Then again, it just might make some sense: my little contrary Daughter has come up with My Blue Man just because he's exactly the opposite of what all the rule books say an imaginary friend should be.

I don't know whether to applaud her creativity or hide under the covers until she get past her teenaged years.


Ashlie- Mommycosm said...

Kids are funny, huh! My son has an imaginary friend named "Boo". Boo is no longer allowed in my house until he learns to use good manners. I got tired of disciplining my son only to be told that "Boo told me to do that". One day, I realized that I had the power to make him go away if he was doing bad things.

He still talks about him, but just like any of his other real-life friends, he has to ask for permission to play with him first.

Yeah, I'm already saving for his therapy. I'll save you the question.

Jennifer said...

If it makes you feel any better, I had a weird invisible friend too. His name was Chaser. He was a robot that cleaned my room. He generally kept everything tidy around me. I wish he was still around.

LceeL said...

Maybe she could get him to join "Blue Man Group" and make a little money on the side. There's nothing like an invisible friend who can contribute to the family funds.

Julie said...

I had an invisible dog friend named Punkin. He stayed around until my daddy shut him in the car door and he had to go to the animal hospital. I guess he found a better place to live after that.

CaJoh said...

Could be the Blue Man is like a police man… you may have to ask her what makes the man blue.

If she doesn't grow out of it in a few years take her to see Blue Man Group— perhaps that will make her wonder if she should believe the Blue Man anymore.

Julie Pippert said...

Oh you've got to applaud. That's a lovely picture of your kids.

She'll relax on the rules eventually. My girls both did.

Of course, we didn't have a Blue man. My kids *are* the Blue Man I guess lol.

Tracey said...

That is a riot. My sister's imaginary friend moved to Mexico when I was born. Apparently, he wasn't needed anymore...

foolery said...

Perhaps she'll loan him out to Congress. They need Her Blue Man.

Jaina said...

That's very intriguing. Kids' minds are fascinating.

Mrs F with 4 said...

Number 2 son has an invisible friend, except it's a horse called Paint. Paint is on his final warning for galloping in the house.... although the sooner he gallops off into the sunset, the better!

MIT Mommy said...

That is really great. I thought that only the eldest child had imaginary friends because my younger two never bothered with it (perhaps because my eldest is bossy enough for a whole team of imaginary friends). Nonetheless, I occasionally miss Thomas DeLorean and, truly, almost cried the day that my son told me he died. (He came back to life later, then disappeared quietly sometime after).

supertiff said...

i think it's a mother-daughter thing. when i was young, all my teachers used to rave about how awesome and happy and well-behaved i was, and my mother was positive that they had me confused with someone else because, at home?


maybe she just prefers to take her orders from someone else. little girls will be little girls, after all.

but my goodness, how adorable is this story!

McMommy said...

Loved this story! My son has an pretend friend named "Jerry" and he is a mouse. However, if anything "bad" happens around the house, he blames "Tom" the cat.

(what?? I swear I don't let him watch TOO much tv...)

Mr Lady said...

One: I LOVE when you type your kids-speak. You are better at it than anyone I know.

Two: Not one of my kids ever had an imaginary anything. None of my kids have any imagination whatsoever, truth be told. They also are incapable of estimating. That is what will drive me my grave; just sayin'. God, that sounds SO cute. Maybe she could teach my girl about it?

anymommy said...

Smart little lady. I think toddler boy brains work a little more simply. My son has cows and horses in his closet. He has to feed them, sometimes he has to tell them to back off a little, if they get to close, otherwise, they're cool.

May you survive the bossy blue man!


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