It's not unusual to glance at the middle seat of the van and discover Audrey seated next to an empty seat with the belt securely fastened. "Are Sarah and Jennie in the car with us today?" I'll ask. She'll nod her head nonchalantly and resume her quiet whispers, presumably little conversations with Sarah and Jennie.
On this particular day, however, my normal question was met with a shake of her head. "Well, who did you just strap in?" I pressed.
"Mommy, I have lots of imaginary friends!"
"Oh." I turned back around to ponder this fact, another question nagging. It was only a few months ago that we sat in our favorite pizza joint. As we waited for our dinner, Audrey took what appeared to be an important call on her pink Barbie phone. "That was Sarah and Jennie," she had explained.
"Oh? I thought Sarah and Jennie were here having pizza with us," I had replied. "Where are they this evening?"
"They're at Disney World," she had answered matter-of-factly.
"Wow!" I had exclaimed. "Are they scoping out all the best places to visit? The fun things to do?"
A nod of the head.
And now I turned back around to interrupt yet another whispered conversation. "Audrey," I asked slowly, "are ALL of your imaginary friends going to Disney World with us?" My voice was tinged with excitement, but inside I cringed a bit knowing just how difficult it is to keep track of four children at an amusement park. Add a group of crazy kids I can't even see? Impossible!
Her eyes lit up, and she grinned. "Yes, Mommy!"
"But, Audrey," I continued, "how will we fit all of your friends in our car and in the hotel?"
"Mommy! I don't have THAT many imaginary friends!"