There seems to be a new member of our household at the moment. His name is Bippity and he's a blue robot.
He's actually the robot from Driver Dan's Story Train on CBeebies. This isn't a particular favourite show, but the tv was on in the bedtime wind-down period one evening and Arran came running through to the kitchen where I was making Eilidh's bottle and said, "Do you know who is my best friend?" and then told me, "It's Bippity!"
He talked about Bippity a bit and then said, "Bippity is on television and not in my house", not sadly, but in a way that meant his mind was ticking over.
A few minutes later he suddenly exclaimed, "Who's that at the door?", ran to the door (of the dining room) and exclaimed, "It's Bippity!" as an invisible-to-all-but-Arran robot stepped into our dining room. That was yesterday and he's been with us since.
I was quite excited about the arrival of an imaginary friend. It's a normal developmental phase, with around 70% of children having a made-up buddy at some stage or other. On request, I set a place for Bippity at the table last night and watched happily as my husband (who is usually more reticent about silly games than I am) poured a little gravy onto Bippity's meat. At bedtime, Bippity tucked into bed next to Arran and I had to kiss him goodnight.
I thought that perhaps it would be a short-lived game and that by the morning Arran would have forgotten that he'd had a robot sleepover. Certainly it seemed that way at first, but just before he left for nursery, when he saw me racing upstairs to grab a hairbrush, he cautioned me to be quiet as Bippity was still sleeping.
When I collected the children from nursery, I picked up Arran first (as I always do as otherwise he spots me and gets upset) and then went across for Eilidh. As we were gathering up Eilidh's things, Arran looked out of the big glass doors and said, "Look who's waiting for me out there, Mummy". I looked, expecting to see a classmate from nursery but there was noone around. "It's Bippity" said Arran, and he came home with us from nursery. Arran even urged the nursery workers to 'say hello to Bippity', which, bless them, they duly did.
I love that Arran has such a great imagination and think it's incredibly cute. He's sociable and has enough 'real life' friends that I don't worry at all about it being a 'loner' type thing. I do, however, find Bippity's presence a little creepy at times, as however much I treat him like a game that Arran is making up as he goes along, I can't supress the feeling that Bippity's existence is something outwith our control. Like tonight, I pretended to wash Bippity's hair in the bath, only to be told in amazement by Arran that Bippity wasn't even there, he was downstairs playing.