It's hard being the second kid sometimes. As parents, we know what crazy things the second kid will try based on what the first kid has done...if the first kid got caught. Second kids get the hand-me-down clothes, the unfinished baby books and photograph albums, and comparisons to the older sibling. As much as I try not to compare Lottie and Dallas, it happens. I'm only human.
Dallas is now in a phase that Lottie never really went through: the imaginary friend phase. Dallas's imaginary friends aren't the normal, run-of-the-mill friends, though. No, not for my boy. Dallas's imaginary friends are a skeleton and a ghost, and quite often, they all spend time together at a Halloween party or a Halloween store.
A few weeks ago, we took Lottie and Dallas to the local Halloween Express just to look at the costumes and decorations. Dallas made it approximately eight seconds in the store before losing his mind. I should have known not to even bother having him go inside when he started to quake at the inflated black cat at the entrance. He was pretty hysterical, so I took him outside with me. We couldn't even sit on the steps leading to the store, though, because the cat was looming over us. We sat in the car and listened to "Wheels on the Bus" ad nauseum until Lottie and Trevor emerged from the store, totally unscathed. Ever since then, Dallas has had a love-hate relationship with anything scary or Halloween-related. He loves to read Halloween books from the library, but he can't stand the thought of watching any Disney movie with a villain. (So, that basically leaves...nothing.) He constantly wants to talk about Halloween decorations, but when it comes to seeing them, he's still unsure. And now we have the new pals, the ghost and the skeleton. These imaginary friends don't hang out with us on a daily basis; I mean, I don't have to set a place at the dinner table for them or anything. But in a sense, they're always with us. Dallas is usually pretty precise with his words, but when it comes to the ghost and the skeleton, he tends to ramble. He talks about them on the swings, at school, in the bathtub, during snack time, in his bed, in the car...you get the picture. Often, the stories involve things he and his pals have done at a Halloween party or things they have seen at a Halloween store. And it's not just any party or store: Dallas always throws the party and he also owns the store.
Sometimes the skeleton brings cookies to Dallas's Halloween party. Once, the ghost pushed the skeleton into the water at Dallas's party, and Dallas had to save the ghost. Then the skeleton got a time-out. I wonder where this party is taking place? The YMCA? Lake Cumberland? California? And who administers the time-outs? 'Cause I know I'm not invited to these shindigs. The ghost seems to always be the victim of the skeleton's pranks; the skeleton has also been known to spit, hit, push, and kick other people. The worst of all of skeleton's traits, though, is his lack of sense of humor. Dallas often laments, "Only the skeleton doesn't know any good jokes."
I did a little research on the Internet about imaginary friends. Apparently, doctors used to think that kids who had imaginary friends were lacking something in their real lives: not enough friends or time with other children. The current perspective, though, is that kids who make up playmates tend to have better verbal skills and social understanding than kids who choose not to create friends. It also tends to be associated with strong creativity later in life. Imaginary friends are no longer considered a "red flag." Whew. My kid's not a freak; well, at least, not for that reason. ;)
Overall, I don't mind the skeleton and the ghost. In fact, I sort of like them. It's fascinating to hear the stories, and I'm glad that Dallas is included in the adventures. We've had some rough roads recently with Dallas's food allergies and him feeling left out at school; any form of inclusion he can get is pretty wonderful in my book, even if it's all in his mind. Because, after all, to quote Albus Dumbledore, "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it isn't real?"