I am upstairs tapping at the computer. My daughter is nearby, sitting on the carpet. She has collected a number of her toys and dolls around her and is gesticulating and talking in a hushed voice. I turn my head slightly and listen as she leans close to one of the dolls. She is talking to her about bedtimes and eating tea and being good. She strokes a dress here and pats some hair into place there. I can just hear what she is saying but not every word. I love to watch her caring for all her little inanimate toys.
“Who are they?” I ask, pointing to some dolls near her.
“They are my children.”
“And those too?”
“No, those two are having a playdate” she says. “They’re both boys. That one’s a bit older though, because he was born on Christmas Day.”
“Oh, like Jesus?” I ask.
“No daddy” she says, smiling indulgently. “He’s called Tom.”
She tucks them up under a little blanket. They look loved and cared for and somehow happier than usual. I thought my daughter had an imaginary sister. In fact she has a whole extended family.