Mar 17 2009

The Other Mother

Cole: Mom! I have sticky hands!
Me: Oh rea…
Cole: I’m like a TREEFROG!
Me: Awesome.

Cole (picking up play phone): I’m calling the COPS.


I don’t know where he gets this stuff, but he has us laughing daily. He’s clever, and he has a better memory than I’ve EVER had, something he must get from his dad.

Ever since we went to see Coraline in the theater (which Cole really enjoyed), he has been talking about his “other mother,” “other father,” and “other grandfather” (the especially weird thing about that being that he doesn’t even call either of his REAL grandfathers “grandfather.” One is Pop and the other is Poppa [name]). He tells stories about them, like that his Other Father brings him toys, his Other Grandfather told him how to chop down the tree out front, and his Other Mother loves me (his REAL mother- I can prove it, I have the scars).

Is it silly that I’m a little annoyed by this game? Is it silly that I feel jealous of these fake characters, and that I wonder why he feels the need to make them up, as if the real family he has isn’t enough? I love his imagination, which is getting bigger and grander every day, I just hate this particular game. It makes me feel like I’m competing with an imaginary person for “Cole’s Best Mother of the Year.” I’m not good at competition.

I know, I know- I’m overreacting. And when he brings me the stories of his fantastic family, I don’t really play along, but I don’t try to quash the game, either. Sometimes I ask him questions about these fake people, trying to spy on my competition trying to ferret out the reason for the game, but I can never get much information out of him other than what he originally offers.

I told my mom that he was playing this game, and she reminded me that I, too, had an “imaginary” family when I was about Cole’s age, but that I had shockingly complete and thorough information about them. I told her that I had a mother before her, and that I had been out picking mustard seeds when a rattlesnake bit and killed both of my parents. My mom could ask me any question about that family and I had the answer.

The particularly disturbing parts of my story to my mother were that 1) I knew that rattlesnakes were deadly, and 2) I knew about mustard seeds. She had no idea where I could have gotten either piece of information, particularly because I was home alone with her all day every day and didn’t watch any tv beyond Sesame Street and Dance Party USA. My mother, of course, is convinced that I was recalling a previous life, but I’m not so convinced.

I’m just wondering, did your kids or kids you know go through this? I know that kids can have elaborate fantasy lives, but I guess I didn’t realize it could start so early, and I’m wondering if fantasy other families are common or if I should worry.

(Maybe I should bake a cake tonight. Do you think his Other Mother can bake cakes like mine? I MUST be better at something!)