Did you know that children with imaginary friends retain knowledge faster than other children, are more sociable and more creative? So when they disappear, questions are required.
In case you haven’t been introduced, Alla Hoo Hoo is Mr4’s imaginary friend.
She appeared about a year ago, and teaches him all sorts of things.
She wears a brown dress and ‘big’ shoes.
She rides a motorbike, has a purple forklift, is a member of the SES, has a fluctuating number of children (anywhere between four and 98, depending on the day), and is, apparently, married to a pizza.
You can see how her presence would be missed.
I decided to probe.
“So, where’s Alla Hoo Hoo these days?” I asked. (I am nothing if not subtle.)
“Oh, she moved to Sydney,” said Mr4. Unconcerned. Completely.
“Will she come back? Is she just visiting? Why did she move?” Concerned. Completely.
He looks at me. “I don’t need her anymore, Mum.”
And with that, she’s gone. Replaced by his friends at preschool and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
I’m not quite sure what effect this will have on his knowledge retention, sociability and creativity, but I know that I’ll miss her.
And if I ever question the value of my blog, I will think of Alla Hoo Hoo.
Without this blog, our future conversations may go like this: ‘Remember how Mr18 used to have that imaginary friend when he was four? What was her name?’.
Instead, she will forever be remembered as a big-shoe-wearing, motor-bike-riding, bushwalking, evil genius.
See. There’s knowledge retained, right there.
Alla Hoo Hoo, Mr4’s imaginary friend, has been very quiet for a while. No parties. No forklift. Not even mention of the 98 children. Mr4 tells me that this is because she is working on a “very big, very super new invention”.
Intrigued, I asked him what she is inventing.
“A popcorn maker,” he replied. “And she’s making it out of boxes. In a special workshop on the other side of the world.”
“But we already have a perfectly functioning popcorn maker (named Cornelius),” I said. “How will Alla Hoo Hoo’s be different?”
He thought. “It’s broken,” he replied.
She is clever that Ms Hoo Hoo. Instead of building an incredibly small window of functional operation into the device’s planned obsolescence (as most electrical appliances appear to have), she has decided to skip that step all together and take us directly to the point where we must buy a new popcorn maker as soon as we leave the shop with the one we just bought. Sheer evil genius.
I can see why she’s been so quiet.
Alla Hoo Hoo and Mr3 have been doing some bushwalking. Apparently, they went to Bushwalking School, where they learned to watch out for snakes. The school is under a tree, down a path. They take water bottles and snacks. They have buried treasure in the bush, but they haven’t made a treasure map yet so they don’t know where it is.
Alla Hoo Hoo is not a natural bushwalker. She only goes because Mr3 likes it so much.
“She’s my friend, so she does what I like to do,” he told me.
I asked what Ms Hoo Hoo wears on these adventures, knowing her penchant for dresses and big shoes.
“She wears she’s dress,” he said. “She has a special green one for bushwalking. But she doesn’t wear her shoes with the stands on them. They would be too hard to walk in.”
She’s got smarts, that imaginary friend.
I asked what else they’d learned at Bushwalking School. He thought for a moment.
“You never go without telling someone,” he said.
So sensible. Once again I found myself wondering how imaginary this friend is. Then again, he wouldn’t really have gone bushwalking with her without telling me, now would he?
There comes a time in every family’s journey when a pet becomes part of their life. Dogs, cats, fish, guinea pigs, diamond pythons, mice (eek), pigs – these and many others are all potential new family members. It’s just a matter of choosing what kind of family you are.
Alla Hoo Hoo, Mr3’s imaginary friend, has approached pet owning in her usual inimitable fashion. She and her extended family – now including Mr Pizza, Ben (her husband) and a very hazy number of children – have taken on a school of sharks.
Specifically, Wiper Sharks.
So-called because they are able to complete the entire Total Wipeout obstacle course without falling over. They take on the ‘sucker punch’ feature on their tails.
I know all this because Mr3 has again been spending a bit of time with Ms Hoo Hoo. He has stopped going to as many parties with her because they play too many ‘grown-up’ games at Alla Hoo Hoo’s parties.
Worriedly, I tried to extract details of these ‘grown-up’ games (bowls of keys came to mind for some reason). Apparently the Hoo Hoo posse is fond of the Ironing Game.
I told Mr3 I quite understood why he no longer wished to go along.
I have also got to the bottom of their shared passion for motorbikes. They like them because they get to wear helmets. I’m happy with this explanation – the helmets are something he’s likely to grow out of, as opposed to, say, a deep-seated love of the Harley Davidson.
Soon after that conversation, Mr3 asked me what ‘invisible’ meant. I explained that it meant that something couldn’t be seen.
“Like Alla Hoo Hoo,” he said. “She doesn’t like people to see her.”
Alla Hoo Hoo has been giving Mr3 dancing lessons. His newfound skills appeared, quite suddenly, during dinner about a week ago. He put down his fork, stood up, took a step back and began to move, overtaken by an urge he could not explain.
He was a whirling dervish of clapping, foot stomping, knee slapping beauty in red flannel pyjamas. His blonde hair flew as he turned faster and faster, cheeks reddening with effort, eyes sparkling with joy.
The Builder and I could only sit, open-mouthed, and take it all in. It was like watching someone possessed.
The actual dance itself is difficult to describe. Imagine a slapping/tapping/Lederhosen style of Germanic origin, crossed with an Irish jig and some Scottish sword work.
Spectacular does not begin to describe it.
He is earnest about practising his new moves. Willing to demonstrate them at the drop of a hat.
He told me that his ‘friend’ Alla Hoo Hoo taught him everything she knows. At all the parties they frequent together, no doubt. Which, it transpires, they attend in her purple forklift.
How she manages the complexity of moves in her ‘big shoes’ is quite beyond me, but he assures me that she always wears purple shoes and that’s the secret.
Sometimes, I wonder about Alla Hoo Hoo. The other day, we were driving around when Mr3 suddenly burst into song. A song that Mr6 didn’t know and hadn’t taught him. A song that I hadn’t taught him. A song that I’m pretty sure The Builder doesn’t know.
“Did you learn that at preschool?” I asked, after the requisite round of applause and effusive compliments on his singing that he requires. Nay, demands.
“No,” he said, serene, looking out the window. “Alla Hoo Hoo taught me.”
Mr6 and I were silent. Our eyes met in the mirror. Wondering… Well, wouldn’t you?