Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Imaginary Children

This post originally appeared in Practical Parenting Magazine, November 2010

Sometimes, I am faced with a certain parental schizophrenia, although I haven’t yet required medication, or constructed myself a foil hat with flaps that channel messages from the Sunrise team. I do occasionally talk back to the Wiggles, but that’s just when I’ve been forced to watch too many DVDs and feel compelled to offer advice. ‘Your pants are too tight, Anthony! Too tight! And tell Murray to back away from the L’Oreal Copper Collection!’

No, my mental disconnect is the furry line between reality and fantasy which delineates my imaginary children from my real ones. It happens across a few aspects of life. Take dinnertime, for instance. My imaginary children eat whatever I put in front of them. They say ‘Brown rice and broccoli! Woo-hoo! Thanks for optimising our future dental health and academic success through a balanced diet, Mum!’

In real life, T-Bone will eat anything but by ‘eat’, I mean convey food to his mouth after taking each forkful on a journey across his outfit, the table and his sister. At two, he is barely stringing words together, but when I put spaghetti bolognaise down in front of him last week, he still managed to shout ‘Dog food, Mama!’

Three-year-old Peanut, meanwhile, says, as a reflex: ‘I don’t like that,’ whenever dinner is placed in front of her. An average mealtime might involve three visits to time-out, four threats to withhold dessert and six months off my life-span. When forced to chew, she can make one mouthful last longer than the Middle East peace negotiations, and if allowed, she would exist solely on frozen blueberries, sausages, and the thrill of drama.

In my head, my kids dress in organic cotton, hand-made, fair-trade garments, woven on the earnest hips of a female collective from a developing nation. Logo-free, calming neutrals, they would be worn with just a touch of whimsy. A bespectacled owl badge, perhaps.

In real life, Peanut’s all-time favourite outfit goes like this: Sportacus underpants worn beneath a pair of satin Wiggles boxer shorts and a Thomas the Tank Engine singlet topped with a stretched-out, over-loved blue top that reads ‘Bring Back Warney’. She likes to top this ensemble with a pair of sunglasses I made for her third birthday that feature two Wiggles stuck on straws and leaping, maniacally and permanently, off the side of her head. T-Bone fights Peanut for the Wiggles shorts, but he prefers to wear them as a hat. Lately, he has developed a passion for a striped sun frock that he calls his ‘dancing dress.’

I can’t really blame the kids. To be honest, I am a different mother in my imagination too. There, I never withdraw to a quiet place in my own head where the whinging can’t reach. The television doesn’t function as a fat, square, twinkly babysitter. I use only cloth nappies, feed only organic and I am fully Present in the Moment.

Then again, maybe, my imaginary mother-self is a bit much. I would probably avoid her at the park. And those imaginary kids…, well,the other children would probably hang them up on a basketball hoop by the strap of their home-sewn underpants. Perhaps, in the end, reality ain’t so bad.


  1. Gee, whiz, I've missed you, Rachael! Tell Ted we want pics of him in his dancing dress.

  2. . . . aint that the truth! love your work mogantosh.


Thanks for talking to me. I don't got cooties. Oh, except for when I got cooties.