The life of an only child

My Son is an only child. He always will be. We only have one option left and that’s to adopt. We have been considering it for a long time but I feel he’s getting too old to understand the allowances he’d have to make if he were to have a little brother or sister. I couldn’t imagine us adopting someone his own age, by six or seven they’ve already been through the critical and fundamental growth stages of their childhood. Their paradigms have been set and they’ll be more or less ruled by them. That’s too much for me. Certainly in this stage of life; I’m barely gaining a handle on my emotions and the way in which I perceive life to gain an entirely different perspective. We’ll see, though. There is much to discuss and lots of time left to make any decision of such.

I always thought being an only child was a blessing. And having parents that split up was a further blessing. Not only would I get both of my parent’s undivided attention I’d always come away tops on Christmas and Birthdays. Everything for me. Just the way I liked it. Mine, mine, mine. And if truth be told I’m still trying to get out of that mindset as we speak. Being raised as an only child and spending my life up until 27 alone there was no need to share. To compromise, to take in what my wife tells me and adjust my behaviour as appropriate. I was used to doing everything my own way and when I wanted. No one need tell me different.

I can remember ever friend that I had growing up either had a brother, or a sister, or both. They would always be fighting. Smacking ten bells out of each other which would result in me having to spend the day alone and on my own. I could never understand that. They were supposed to grow up together, be best friends, empower each other, cover for the other when one was doing naughty. But it never panned out like that. Little brothers and big sisters were always getting into scrapes with all my friends. I just wanted the easy life. I didn’t like fighting.

There was always the downsides to being alone, though. When friends were grounded or the weather was bad it was desperately lonely. You couldn’t switch on the computer and connect with all your mates like you can now. I can remember sometimes being confined to watching trash on TV because nothing was happening. Sometimes I’d wish for a brother or sister. A little companion to take the never ending boredom away. Mum, she was a worker. She had a house to keep, a child to run and a job to keep. If she wasn’t at work she was tidying, if she wasn’t tidying she was tired. It was hard to motivate Mum to do fun things on the boring days. Yet, she was an only child too. I can understand her frustration and also her unwillingness to join in fun family me and her time. She was knackered. Knackered from a 9-5 job, then having to come home to me. I’m not excusing the behaviour but I truly understand it. I was a hyperactive child. Handling that as a single parent. Eesh.

And then there were the social barriers. I often looked in awe as the great social communicators in our classes that seemed to walk around with not a care in the world. People would gravitate to them and they wouldn’t feel awkward about it at all. Girls? No problem. They talked to them completely naturally. I often speculate if my social awkwardness stemmed from having no-one around to constantly bounce off. I was often tainted as “weird” and perhaps this was a social effect of being an only child. A child that had sometimes only himself and his own thoughts to run with. No-one to stop and say, “shit man, that’s weird. Stop that. Stop that now!” like a brother would say, or a sister. Perhaps I’m thinking too much. I’m not too sure.

I was often jealous of the people that had older brothers and sisters at High School. I’m sure they prepared their siblings for the impending social onslaught in their own way. It was a new avenue to me. Rife with new experiences and untold majestics. Our teachers, and visiting High School Teachers had painted the image of a furry cotton ball of wool of what High School life would be similar to. Yet I often feel painting an adequate picture would have been welcome. “You’re all going to be outcasts, prepare for a life of solitude now. Apart from those that show early signs of rebellious behaviour, you’ll be fine.”

It has in my long life learned me to appreciate the silence. Appreciate the times that I’m on my own and don’t want to be disturbed. Everyone wants that right? Sometimes to be alone? When large families couldn’t just “get away” I could walk up to my bedroom, switch on my record player and lay on the bed. Tranquility. Lost in the depths of my own thoughts. No one to disturb me. No-one to break that silence.

I am the only boy in my entire family. My Auntie had two girls. They’re all grown up now. One is a teacher and the other is a Nurse. I feel I was spoiled in my youth and my young adulthood in many ways. I was the only boy in my family. An only child in a single-parent family. My entire family felt bad for me. I was showered with gifts and hugs and many other things. Yet sometimes I can’t help but feel that was a bit of a disservice. As a young adult, I expected more than what I should have. I expected people to go the extra mile for me because that was what I was used to. I expected things to fall on my lap and opportunities to come knocking at my door without earning any of it. But that’s what I was used to. People felt bad. Gave me stuff. It’s a very negative cycle to get into. But that’s another story 🙂

All in all the life of an only child has its ups and downs. There’s the loneliness, but it can often be counteracted by the escapism. And now we have computers and the Internet which can hook you up with a thousand people if you wanted or felt the need to connect with someone. Being an only child isn’t too bad. But it’s not great either. Just remember that as a parent you need to keep us busy and social!!

I am learning from the mistakes of my parents, and hopefully, Alex will learn from ours.

the life of an only child
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I'm a man that's been through the pitfalls and elations of relationships in my ever growing quest to better my knowledge in the human condition. I've been in the game and around the Internet since 1996 and surprisingly I'm still using it today. I've definitely found myself in some weird and wonderful places and I hope to share all of this with you lucky people.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I am an only child and experienced the highs and lows as you describe. I think about having to navigate my mother’s declining health and death alone and it makes me appreciate another level of having a sibling. That said I am finally happy to be an only child.

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