It’s December 26, and many of you have just celebrated Christmas with all of your siblings. Or maybe – like Traci – you’re an only child. Don’t let the non-onlies get you down — there are some serious life lessons to glean from the only child life.
(originally posted March 29)
Being an only child has taught me a lot of things throughout my life, mostly that there a lot of assumptions people make if they know you’re an only child. But I’m here to break the stereotypes and tell you the truth about being the only kid in the family. I would like to reiterate that I’m not speaking on behalf of the Only Children of America coalition (not a real thing), but I’d say this is pretty accurate.
1) We’re very independent
Sisters are doin’ it for themselves. Or brothers, whatever. In sixth grade, I had dance lessons that started at 4pm, which was before my parents got out of work. So on the days I had dance, I would take the bus home, be by myself for about an hour or so, then my friend’s mom would pick me up and we’d go to class. I mean I was 11 years old, but at the same time, there was no one else around to make sure I wasn’t like, lighting anything on fire. But I was given the responsibility of having keys to the house, knowing how to turn off the alarm system, make food if need be. If something went wrong, I had to figure it out and fix it myself. If anything, this is what has stuck with me the most. I’ve never really relied on anyone to do anything for me, because I know I can (usually) do it myself.
2) We’re okay with being alone
Ok, that sentence isn’t supposed to be read with the same kind of depression you read it with. But along the same notion of being independent, so does time in solitary (again, not meant to be weird and prison-y). After my parents trusted me with being at home by myself, it wasn’t necessary for them to have anyone look after me. So if they went out, I was by myself in the house. I would like to add that I didn’t really have friends or family members that lived nearby, so again, I was just used to being alone. Without a sibling, I was used to doing stuff by myself, which is still true to this day, mainly because it’s all I know. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I hate being around people. I mean for the most part that’s true because I hate people (my years working retail is to thank for that complex). But I mean only children usually tend to gravitate towards extended family or in my case, my friends, to hang out with all the time. So just as much as we like being alone, we like being around people. But we also need our personal space at the same time. Yeah, we’re crazy.
3) We can do weird shit
My friend Caitlin and I call this the ‘Only Child Syndrome’, because we end up doing random weird things that we don’t realize we’re A) doing in the first place or B) is even weird at all. I don’t even really know how to explain this besides doing like odd little movements or noises or giving strange looks… No one was around to call us out on being weird, so that explains why we’re still weird now. I also tend to talk to myself a lot – like out loud. I assume kids with siblings would usually have a brother or sister to at least be around when you’re saying something, and it’s not as weird as talking outloud and knowing no one ever hears you.
4) We don’t actually like being only children
Okay, I may be speaking for myself here, but I honestly don’t really like being an only child. Like I said, I didn’t have any family members – cousins, etc. living near me growing up. They were/are all in the Philippines, and some here in LA. But what’s weird is that my dad is one of 9 kids. I have a bunch of cousins and second cousins, some of whom I don’t even know. But they all grew up together and I was the American kid. When we go back to the Philippines, I always feel like the odd man out, not only because of the language barrier and cultural differences, but because they all have the advantage of hanging out with each other, while I had my parents and me, myself and I. I’m just saying it would have been much easier to have a sibling when going back to the Phil. Also, I could never blame anything I did wrong on a sibling, or bitch about my parents to someone who would really understand.
5) We’re not all spoiled
So this is obviously the most common only child stereotype. All my friends who are only children are not spoiled by any means. Well, in the sense that they don’t want everything in the world and expect their parents to buy it for them. Many people believe that we’re naturally born brats who expect to be doted on all the time, but that’s far from the case. In fact, I know some people like that who do have siblings, and it’s embarrassing. But like, I’ve never expected my parents to get me everything I’ve ever wanted. I will say that they have done the thing where if I’ll mention my DVD player is broken, they’ll call me back 2 days later and say we found a blu-ray player, and bought it for you, you can pick it up at Best Buy sort of thing (that’s a true story). We don’t act spoiled, but once in a while, we’ll get spoiled.