As you know, much like Scott Disick, I’m an only child. But unlike Scott Disick, I don’t behave like a stereotypical only child very often. I don’t believe that I’m selfish, and I was taught how to share, even though I had no siblings to share anything with. I don’t really correspond to the image that people have of only children, and yet not having any brothers or sisters shaped my life and my personality in many ways.
First of all, when you’re a kid, being an only child is not the norm. At school, I was the only one who didn’t have any siblings, and my little classmates always found it completely bizarre. Of course, when you’re a little kid, standing out is one of the worst things that can happen to you, so it was never very fun.
Thanks for your support, Brogelio.
My friends would constantly ask me what it felt like to be the only kid at home, and would ask if I missed the feeling of having siblings. Which of course, I couldn’t, because how could I miss something that I’ve never known?
So yes, I disliked being different, but ultimately, I really enjoyed the feeling of having my parents to myself. (And yet I said earlier that I knew how to share. Clearly, I don’t know how to share my parents.) Being the center of attention in my nuclear family was mostly fun, and reassuring when I was younger, because I knew that my needs were heard right away, and I could always count on my parents to focus on them a hundred percent, even if they obviously didn’t give me everything I wanted. I never had to fight with anyone for the right to speak up at the dinner table when I wanted to tell my parents about my day, and there was never any scheduling conflict with my extra curricular activities. My toys and clothes were mine, and I had tons of privacy as a kid. I was never afraid of my diary being opened, or my Barbie dolls being destroyed.
In fact, I loved being an only child so much that I had actual nightmares about my parents having another kid. I would wake up in a sweat because in my sleep, I dreamed that I had a brand new sibling who basically ruined my life. Those recurring dreams eventually stopped (maybe my subconscious realized that chances of having a sibling got considerably slimmer as my mom got older…) BUT about 6 months into my life in the US, my 21-year-old self had another one of those nightmares right before flying back to France for the holidays. I dreamed that upon landing, I found out that my parents had adopted a little baby without telling me, and dream-me decided to fly back to Philadelphia immediately. I woke up really embarrassed; I thought those silly and immature dreams had disappeared over the years, but apparently I hadn’t grown at all; I was still the same old self-centered brat. But only in my subconscious.
That’s what I tell myself so I can sleep at night. Needless to say, I never ever told my parents about those bizarre nightmares, or they would probably force me to get help asap.
As much as I love being an only child, the situation has a lot of drawbacks, which I was oblivious to at the time, but can see much more clearly now.
Rachel Berry and I are two peas in one only pod.
First, there’s the obvious drawback: I don’t have any siblings. Sure, I didn’t have anyone to play with at home when I was little, but I had cousins my own age, and I had friends over very often, so I don’t think I felt any void then. But when I see my friends getting closer to their siblings as they get older, I sometimes feel slightly envious. The idea of having a little brat at home who would steal my things and read my diary wasn’t fun, but the idea of having another adult to share family memories with is more attractive. Because, not having to share my parents also meant not having anyone besides my parents to reminisce with, but I didn’t see that at the time. I also don’t have anyone to bitch about my parents with. We all know that we may criticize our own parents, but if anyone else dared to, we would never forgive. That’s why sometimes, I wish I had someone that I could talk to about my mom’s crazy cleaning habits, or my dad’s annoying moods.
Being an only child is also a lot of pressure. My parents are very nice about this, but in theory, I am the only way that they can ever have grandkids, and yet I’m not planning on having children anytime soon. I know there are some parents who don’t hesitate to pressure their kids into having kids when they turn 25 or older, but luckily mine aren’t like this. But I can still feel the pressure from other people in my family. Also, I realize that I’m basically the a-hole of all only children, because I moved VERY far away from my parents and don’t intend to move back. I am essentially depriving my parents from seeing their only offspring. So, I can’t really blame them (read: my mother) for occasionally making me feel guilty about my living so far away.
Don’t we all, Kendall. Don’t we all.
On a more gloomy topic, I am starting to realize how tough it is to be the only child of an aging parent, or parents. Don’t get me wrong, my parents are still young, they are still together and have a great support system. But what about in 20, 25 years? My mom herself is an only child, my grandma lost her husband 35 years ago and lives on her own at 89 years old. My mom visits her 3 times a day to make sure she eats properly, takes her medication and is generally in good health. She has the full responsibility of her aging mother, and I see how it affects her. She is constantly stressed out about my grandma’s well-being, and I know that someday I will probably have the same kind of responsibility with my own parents.
Basically, being an only child is all fun and games until you realize that it is probably one of the reasons why you have deeply rooted anxiety about everything.