From the Mommy Files…

Meet Joe Murphy

Posted on: June 18, 2010

BooBoo was chatting this morning while Bebs was taking a nap. I was on the phone. When I got off the phone and asked who she was speaking to, it sounded like she said, “Mr. Murphy.” So I asked if she was talking about our neighbor. She said no. It was Murphy her friend. Then it sounded like she said “Joe Murphy.” Little did I know, Boo has an imaginary friend. Or two. Possibly three.

Mommy: Who is Joe Murphy?

Boo: Not Joe Murphy, Mommy. Just Murphy.

Mommy: Who’s Murphy?

Boo: He’s my friend from my other school.

Mommy: Uh-huh. Where does he live?

Boo: In a little house outside, next to mine.

She was referring to a playhouse she has in the backyard.


Mommy: Where is Murphy now?

Boo: He left, but he’ll be back later.

Later we went out for a walk, and I asked her again about her new friend.

Mommy: Where’s Murphy?

Boo: He had to go home for a while. She did too.

Mommy: Who?

Boo: The other Murphy.

There’s another Murphy? OK. This is getting complicated.


Mommy: Is there anyone else?

Boo: Their mommy.

Mommy: How old is Murphy?

Boo: 3, like me.

Mommy: How about the other Murphy?

Boo: She’s 4.

Mommy: And then there’s Mrs. Murphy?

Boo: Exactly.

Oh good. I’ve got it straight now.


Mommy: Will you tell me when Murphy comes back so I can say hi?

Boo: OK

So after a while, we decided to bake a pie.

Boo: Mommy! Murphy’s here. He likes to bake pie too!

Mommy: Where is he?

Boo: I’ll bring him there.

So she walked, like she was walking alongside someone and holding their hand.

Boo: Mommy, this is Murphy.

Mommy: Hi Murphy, nice to meet you. Do you like pie?

Boo: He likes pie Mommy.

Mommy: How long will Murphy be staying?

Boo: A couple of years.

Mommy: Won’t his mommy miss him?

Boo: I guess. We’ll send him home if his mommy starts to miss him.

Interesting logic.


Mommy: OK, let’s start making the crust. Does Murphy want to help?

Boo: I think she wants to watch cartoons.

Mommy: Hey, I thought Murphy was a boy.

Boo: No, that’s the other Murphy.

I’m confused. We made the pie crust and then she said she wanted to watch a cartoon.


Boo: Murphy’s going to take a nap now.

Mommy: OK.

A few minutes later, Murphy was gone.

Mommy: Where’s Murphy?

Boo: She went home. Her mommy missed her.

Mommy: OK. Will she be back to visit?

Boo: For sure. I’ll check my little house tomorrow and see if she’s out there.

I decided not to press it any further, and didn’t ask about Murphy for the rest of the day. Funny, she  after that, she didn’t mention any of the Murphys either.

So we have some imaginary friends. Hmmm….Is this her vivid imagination, or is she making up playmates because she’s not with her friends every day? The kids in the neighborhood are still in school, and we’ve only gotten a few play dates in since her school let out. So she’s lonely?

I had an imaginary friend when I was younger. I think I was 4 or 5 when “College” and I became friends. She was afraid of my older sister, so I had to go in another room or under the table to speak to her. She wasn’t around long. It makes sense to me now – my older sister and I had a rocky relationship growing up and she never wanted to play with me. I created my own friend to pass the time when I was at home and needed a companion.

An article on iVillage indicates that studies have shown that children with imaginary friends are “bright” and that “Imaginary friends are an extension of pretend play, which is a normal, healthy, important part of a young child’s development.”

Psychology Today ran a piece and quoted Marjorie Taylor, professor of psychology at the University of Oregon and author of Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them. She found that 65 percent of all children have make-believe friends at some point in their young lives. She indicates that for some kids, the arrival of an imaginary friend is their coping mechanism in dealing with a life change or learning a new skill. For other kids, it’s just plain fun. “Whatever purpose they serve and whatever form they take, fantasy friends indicate a fertile imagination that is as likely to belong to a child with as to one without siblings.”

Now, the amateur psychologist in me says this has to do with her sadness at the end of school, the change in routine and not seeing her friends every day. Who knows. In the meantime, I better make room for the 3 year-old Murphy, the 4 year-old Murphy, and Mrs. Murphy too. Who knows how long they’ll be visiting.

Never a dull moment.

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