And what grade is Grade in?

When our youngest son Hugh started talking about his new friend Grade, I thought maybe his name was Gray, or Grey, and I didn’t think much about it.  Another pre-school friend with an interesting name and one who I would hear much about.

But as the stories became more frequent and detailed – Grade did this, Grade said that, Grade always does this, Grade’s mommy does this and his daddy does that, Grade has this toy and he has that toy – I started to suspect that maybe Hugh was exaggerating about Grade. As it turns out he was.

In fact Grade doesn’t exist at all.

My wife had figured this out long before I did, and so she wasn’t the least bit surprised when I finally whispered one night after dinner, “You know, I think Grade is Hugh’s imaginary friend.”

At first, as any parent might, I simply thought it was cute.  But as I considered all the possible reasons why children (mine especially) would develop an imaginary friend, my admiration turned to curiosity and finally to worry. I don’t know why really, but it worried me. I think part of it is that we work so hard at honesty in our home. I always expect the boys to be truthful with me, to the degree that I’ve told them if they come to me with anything, I promise not to get mad about it.

I suppose now, as Grade has become a part of daily conversation, usually at dinner time, I’m OK with it. I saw this article today, and it further helped me to accept Grade as a healthy part of Hugh’s development. After all, the more I think about it and reflect back to when I was little, the more Grade sounds to me like Tommy, my own imaginary friend.

I think we’ll be OK with Grade.

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