The other day, Matilda and Gert walked past me, each carrying a teaspoon of something white and granular.
"What, are we freebasing now?" I said.
Matilda explained, "It's sugar. I'm going to help Gert make an imaginary friend."
So this intrigued me, and I followed them to the hall bathroom where Gert's older sister told her to stand in the corner and pay attention.
Matilda began the demonstration.
"The first thing you have to do," she said in her teacher voice, "is stand in front of the mirror and close your eyes, and imagine what you want your friend to look like." She squeezed her own eyes shut and imagined for a moment. "Really see her, what color her eyes are, what color hair she has, what she's wearing."
I glanced over at Gert in the corner, holding her spoon tightly and grinning excitedly, her eyes glued to her sister.
"Then," said Matilda, her eyes popping open, "you cast your sugar into the sink!" She sprinkled the contents of the spoon into the basin. "Then you spin around three times and say your friend's name to summon her!"
Too much Harry Potter in my house? Never.
"Then," said Matilda when she'd finished whirling, "turn on the water, and when the sugar's all washed away, you look into the mirror, and there you'll see her! But only you can see her. And only if you believe."
"OH!" shouted Gert with profound delight. "My turn!" She all but shoved Matilda away from the sink, scattering sugar over the bathroom tile.
Some time later, I looked up from my knitting to see Gert parading past, clearly leading an army of the imaginary behind her.
"We're going to go play school," Gert told me.
"Oh, okay," I said. "Who is?"
"Me and Emily and Mylie."
If this was Matilda's way of shrugging off her little five-year-old shadow for a few hours and having some personal Gameboy time, that girl is freaking brilliant.