Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Dear Fern, part XXVIII

Dear Fern,

Fern shows Joey how to handle a goat.

You're two and a third today, which is one-third of the way to seven, though sometimes it feels like you're already there. This installment of our monthly letter to your future self will be about one of your best friends, lest you forget about her in the years between now and whenever you're reading this.

Her name is Joey. When we describe her to our adult friends, we call her "imaginary," but that's just shorthand for "so real that you can't quite see her." Joey appeared (so to speak) just before we found out that you're going to have a baby brother or sister, so it's possible that she's your stand-in sibling during the long wait for the real one. Your mom's childhood invisible friend was a scapegoat she used to explain her own misdeeds to herself, but you don't seem to blame anything on Joey -- she simply comes along for the ride, the game, or the story.

Joey is your all-but-constant companion. She's had dinner with us and she frequently rides in the car. You push her in the playground swings and she was at the zoo the other day. (Sadly, she's afraid of goats. But you showed her that they're safe.) She's the perfect companion in that she can go off and play by herself when you're engrossed in activity, but when you're lonely or bored, she'll trot back over in her imaginary way and enliven the day.

You like to introduce Joey to your family. We've had two sets of grandparents visit this month, so you got several chances to describe her. The first time Joey's hair came up, it was pink. (Later in the month it turned "dark" -- your word for black, we think -- so she's either going natural or goth.) It's really neat that you introduce Joey to your grandpeople and other relations as it underscores your connection to all of them -- separately, as individual people that you can tell apart and appreciate for their differences. Even your out-of-town uncles, aunts, and cousins feature regularly in your life, thanks partly at least to regular Skype sessions. There seems to be a part of your mind reserved for family: you'll ask to call a certain grandpa or pretend to visit a particular grandma at least a couple of times a day.

Our first misunderstanding about Joey came from the name: your dad understandably asked you about "him." You quickly corrected Joey's gender: she's a she, the name notwithstanding, which begs the question of how you figured out that Joey could even be a girl's name. (Short for Josephine, presumably?) Did you see it on a Sesame Street podcast? Did we read you a book with a Joey heroine and forget about it? Are you studying the French revolution when we're not looking? We have no idea.

Joey was around your age once, then she was a little older, and just today she was 8 -- as ever, you tend to play with older kids. On the other hand, this month you've started to see younger babies in a novel way, perhaps best summed up as "animate playthings." You like to help them walk, push them on swings, and the other day you told a five-month old to cover her mouth when she sneezes. You've loved dolls for a while now, but where once they were more independent friends (like your Frida doll), now your Dolly relies on you to carry her across the street, give her a bottle, and tuck her in at night. You’re becoming a big sister, and big-sisterhood becomes you.

They say that imaginary friends are projections of a child's own personality. You have such an immense personality that it's completely plausible that it would erupt out of your head as Joey the Wonder Girl. Wherever she comes from, it's always a merry day when Joey appears. (Of course, with you around, every day is already fun anyway!)

We love you very, very much,

Mommy & Daddy

Here's this month's slideshow. If you can't see the pictures below, click this link.