March 26, 2010

Zach’s New Friend

Posted in Life's Little Moments tagged , at 10:13 am by autismmommytherapist

My child has an imaginary friend. I am so ecstatic I will personally build him his own bedroom if required. Since I needed my husband’s help to assemble Zachary’s six-piece Sesame Street toy set at Christmas, this should indicate my commitment and strong level of enthusiasm regarding this latest development in my second son’s world.

My youngest child is three, and ordinarily, his life should be peppered with such invisible companions. There should be an extra place setting for his see-through buddy at dinner, perhaps an additional teacup provided for the English custom Zach must have learned about in school. On any given day I should be shamelessly cajoling his imaginary buddy to bribe my son to ingest a vegetable or two, or convincing Zachary that his compatriot does indeed, like him, need a nap. Zach’s world however is not an ordinary one, and for a time I feared his mild autism would keep him apart from the fanciful, the fun that evolves from contrived characters and events. Apparently I need not have worried however, because we now have a permanent guest in our home. I’m wondering if my husband will need to claim him on our census report.

It appears we are housing “Justin-ghost”.

Lest you think this apparition is just a paler (if that’s possible) version of my oldest son, please think again. I have asked Zachary if he is simply referring to his sibling when he regales me with his exploits, and he has assured me in no uncertain terms, that “Justin-ghost” is not Justin. That is a direct quote.

No, Justin-ghost is his own entity. Apparently, Justin-ghost is a scary but relatively benign apparition, not inclined to cause us harm. The other day my son eagerly informed me he had “chased Mommy, Daddy, Justin, and Zachary outside to the car, and we had to make the car go ’vroom’”. I asked if Justin-ghost had come with us in the SUV, and Zach replied in the negative, assuring me the wraithlike creature had instead opted to return home after hounding us into the driveway. I have been informed at bedtime that it should be Justin-ghost who should venture upstairs rather than my youngest offspring, and have been politely instructed that the supernatural being would prefer to carry Zach’s plate and fork to the sink for him. While I don’t believe in well, almost anything, I am a big fan of the supernatural set (my seventh grade science fair project won second place for its informative and intuitive portrayal of the benefits of ESP, hence my interest), and I would pay big money to watch a specter complete chores. I’d happily fit it in between diaper changes.

This is new and completely beguiling territory for me, both the language, crisp and clear in its diction and its message, and the concept that Zach can inhabit a world outside the confines of the literal, the commonplace. I am amazed and enthralled that my son, who a little more than a year ago was reduced to a vocabulary that limited him to half a dozen words that were delineated solely for requests, has not only been able to conjure up an invisible cohort, but can tell me about him, in no uncertain terms. As far as I’m concerned, his friend can take up permanent residence.

And if he does, I sincerely hope he likes me.


  1. Cindy said,

    Welcome Justin-ghost. I am thrilled Zachary has you for a friend. Oh and by the way Kim, your inability to assemble the 6 piece Sesame Street set is far less embarrassing than the fact that it took us almost five minutes to figure out how to open it once it was completed.

  2. Mom said,

    Love that boy! And how cute that he named him Justin-ghost!!! I love how you write and tell stories, just like when you were a little girl–Zach is so much like the imaginative Kimberlee, always delighting us with your ideas, stories and imaginative play. How incredible that he is so much like you! Brings back so many lovely memories of the early Kimberlee years! Love, Mom

  3. misifusa said,

    I like Z’s idea that Justin-ghost will clear the dishes…think you can get Justin-ghost to make dinner and clean up as well? Ask Z if he can arrange it! HA
    xo If you can arrange it, send him over to my house…

  4. Tonya Lynn said,

    May they have a long and happy friendship. 🙂 My sister (now 43) had an imaginary friend when she was little. A bunny. Named, appropriately, Bun. They were best of friends and Bun had her own place setting, etc as well.

  5. Kathy Milmore said,

    I think it’s great! We all need an imaginary friend from time to time, don’t we? And how amazing that Zach loves his brother so much he named his new friend after him!

  6. Courtenay Adams said,

    Cutest damn thing I have heard in a long, long time! “Justin-ghost” is something I would love to hear more about! I am a little freaked out that Zachary has decided his friend is a ghost-like entity, but think his level of maturity is quite high to realize that if this friend is invisible to all except him, it must be a ghost. His logic is admirable! I DO believe in ghosts, as you know, so I will want updates on this one!

    • Me too. Not so hot on organized religion, big on ghosts. Go figure.
      It is pretty damn cute, isn’t it? The best part for me was the delineation between Justin and Justin-ghost. I think he was appalled I didn’t get it at first. Very fun!

  7. Amber said,

    Kim, you are so great. I keep shilling your blog on our blog and on my facebook. I think everyone should be reading it. You’re too funny and refreshingly honest. Thanks for this lovely little break.

    • Thanks for “shilling” me! I am basically a “blogslut”, so appreciate the effort! Hope you’re well!


  8. mimi lower said,

    hi, what a sweet story and sweeter boy……i so enjoyed reading all the blogs…..i am chad’s mom, and he sent this blog to me….thanks to him and to you for sharing…….

    • So nice to hear from you! We had a lovely chat the other night, glad to hear you and Mr. L are doing well. So proud of Chad! Thanks for reading and responding!


  9. Kerri said,

    It must be the amazing EI therapists that have helped Zachary with his imagination!!!! (LOL) I am so excited for you and for Zach. It is great that he is coming up with an imaginary friend on his own and not with a toy prompt. I would love to hear some of the conversations he has with his friend. I love that he argues with you when you say something about the ghost. He knows how it is and he is telling you. How great is it that he is trying to get out of his chores by using the ghost as his helper? I love it!!!

    • Actually, I think a lot of this is a direct result of Early Intervention. God knows I was a tired shell of a woman by the time he regressed. I owe you guys a lot.

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