When Kyndall was almost four, we went to an event at a local church. (I call it an event because, for the life of me, I can't remember what it was. Possibly the anniversary party for my parents, but I can't be sure.)
At this event, a few older girls took Kyndall into a darker part of the church. As I learned later, they left my four year old in this dark place after telling her there were ghosts there. I went running to find her, expecting to find a terrified little girl.
What I found instead was my smiling, happy almost-four year old daughter talking to what would become her imaginary friend. His name was Ghost-ie (how original, right?) and he came home with us that night from the church.
My child, who slept with us at the time, insisted on sleeping with Ghostie. I saw my chance and insisted right back that there was definitely not enough room in the bed for Mommy, Daddy, Kyndall, Libby, AND Ghostie. I told her that if she wanted to sleep with Ghostie she would have to do it in her own big-girl bed.
And she did. For four nights in a row, I tucked Kyndall and Ghostie into her bed in her room. I don't quite remember what happened after that, but Ghostie stayed with us for a while.
And then, Ghostie re-appeared a few years later when Libby turned four. When Ghostie came back, he brought his girlfriend Melinda with him!
At 5 and 7, both girls still talk about Ghostie (and, in Libby's case, Melinda) as a friend they used to have. He was such a real friend to them, even though they knew he was all in their imagination.
I have a friend who's son has an imaginary brother. Her son demands that she talk to both him and the imaginary brother when she comes home from work. He has ordered his imaginary brother a drink at a restaurant. He even almost conned a Dollar General cashier into giving his "brother" a balloon! :)
Imaginations are such a great thing, aren't they? I can't help but think that if adults had imaginary friends, we'd be a lot more creative. We would probably get a lot more accomplished--talking through things without actually having to listen back. Maybe we should all take cues from the younger generation and invent a new "friend."
If you try it, let me know :)