When your imaginary friends pass away

It’s funny, when you’re parenting a toddler, it can sometimes feel like certain quirks and behaviors will go on forever—like they are a part of your child’s personality that is so unique and distinct that it defines at least a part of their being.

And then one day a piece of your toddler’s toddlerness falls away like a loose petal. It falls away so quickly that you nearly missed it and even though it’s a silly little thing, it makes your heart hurt a little to see it go.

Goodbye, sweet imaginary friends

Every day of the past year has been filled with stories of Evan’s “work buddies”—Ronnie, Jack, and wait for it—Copter Raptor.

Copter Raptor? The copter raptor was mentioned once in an episode of Wow Wow Wubzy and in true toddler-fashion, this random phrase wiggled its way into a fine little corner of Evan’s mind.

Goodbye, sweet imaginary friends

Actually, Jack and Copter Raptor were merely supporting actors in the never ending Ronnie drama. Ronnie was central to Evan’s thought process and he was certainly a big part of our family.

“Evan, pick up your toys,” I would say.

“Well, Ronnie doesn’t have to pick up his toys. Ronnie can leave his toys all over his house. Ronnie also has a pickup truck, it’s his pickup truck, he drives it.”

The Ronnie stories were colorful and detailed. Ronnie always had a wife and he sometimes had children. Sometimes he was a 40-year-old man and sometimes he was a child. Ronnie worked with Evan, Jack, and Copter Raptor. They had a workshop, they drove trucks, they had a “work dog” and a “work raccoon.”

Oh, the adventures they all shared at work!

The Ronnie stories always suited Evan’s particular needs and he even became a bit indignant if you insinuated that Ronnie wasn’t real.

“Ronnie IS real, he’s not an imaginary friend…”

Yesterday while the kids and I were visiting my parents, it struck me that I hadn’t heard a thing about Ronnie in… days. Maybe a week? I decided to ask Evan what was up.

“Evan, what’s going on with Ronnie these days?” I asked.

“Well… Ronnie passed away.”

“What about Jack and Copter Raptor? Where are they?”

“They all passed away. My work buddies all just passed away.”

I think he understands that “passed away” means that that a person has died. He has been asking about my grandfather recently, so, we’ve been talking about life and death.

I wasn’t sure when or how Ronnie and his other imaginary friends would make their exit, but, I have to admit that I didn’t think it would be all at once or that they would have passed away.

Evan turned 4-years-old two weeks ago and in true momfail fashion, I didn’t do an official birthday blog post for him this year. I find that it gets harder and harder to do those every year with so many changes and so many parts of his babyness and toddlerness just falling away without even asking me for permission.

Happy birthday, big kid.

Did your children have imaginary friends?


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