By Jamie Krug
Your birthday was a few days ago, and now you are six. This reminds me of one of my very favorite poetry books, Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne. Everybody knows Winnie the Pooh, but not too many people know Binker, the namesake imaginary friend within my very favorite poem found in Now We Are Six.
As a child, I loved Binker and I wanted him to be my own despite knowing that he already belonged to the lucky child narrating the poem. It is also one of my mother’s favorite poems and she was the one that introduced me to it. I can still hear the cadence of her voice as she recited it from memory to me, eyes shining with conspiratorial glee. We knew about Binker. It was a special secret we shared.
And then I shared it with you. I read you that same poem, likely in the very same rhythm and cadence in which it was read to me, and I told you the name of the book it came from. “So this is just for people who are six?” you asked wide-eyed in all of your six-year-oldness. I smiled and told you that it was first read to me when I was about your age, and so I supposed that very well might be case.
You informed me that you had an imaginary friend, too. “His name is Ziki,” you said. And then immediately asked, “How do I spell ‘Ziki’? I know it starts with ‘Z’, but…” And so we sounded it out together and settled on Z-I-K-I because it was sweet and simple and you liked it best.
And you are sweet, but anything but simple. And sometimes you think I’m the best, and sometimes you think I’m the worst. And often you’re right about both. We are learning about each other now – how to navigate the world with each other. How much rope you need to be able to explore the world while still tethered to me, and how far we can push each other before it’s too far and someone gets hurt.
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