An account of the author’s struggles to cope with her young daughter’s troublesome imaginary friend.
Edelman (Motherless Mothers: How Losing a Mother Shapes the Parent You Become, 2007, etc.) chronicles a period in 2000 when her three-year-old daughter Maya invented an imaginary friend named Dodo. At first the author consulted parenting books, friends and the family pediatrician in Southern California. However, as Maya’s aggressive behavior worsened and she started to talk about being under the control of Dodo, her parents feared the onset of an inherited mental illness, or even a spirit possession. The main drama of the story is centered on the family vacation to Belize, during which they toured Mayan ruins, investigated local culture and ancient healing traditions, and, with different degrees of comfort and faith, took their daughter to local shaman healers in search of a cure. Edelman became convinced that Maya’s problem was more than a normal developmental phase and was soon persuaded that alternative healing was having a positive effect, leading to a final ritual cure involving a bath of flowers and prayers. This immediately and miraculously led to the Maya’s renouncement of her imaginary friend and to the author’s growing belief in the efficacy of alternative-healing practices. Though Edelman is an accomplished, mostly insightful writer, the narrative is overly dependent on descriptions of her child’s increasingly dramatic temper tantrums.
A travel narrative and childrearing memoir that will appeal to those interested in shamanistic healing and other aspects of New Age spirituality.