Okay, dramatic title to pull in the reader – check.
I actually stand by it, though; I think being an only child has ruined my life. Insert a “the grass is always greener” cliché here.
Growing up, I lived on a street inhabited by the elderly without a single child under the age of, probably, 30. I met my friends at school and through various sports, but I didn’t have anyone close by at home to play with after school or on weekends. My parents claimed, “You were made perfect so we never need another” to avoid my questions about getting a brother or sister. I begged and begged until I was 12 and moved on to asking them to adopt until I was 16 – no dice.
My dad is also an only child, so there is not much family on his side and none close to my age. My mom has one brother who has three kids, and those are my cousins. We grew up about 20 minutes apart and saw each other frequently, although that has changed in the last eight years or so. People grow up, get busy and stop hanging out with their cousins.
In order to cope with the fact that I had no one to regularly play with, I created Only Child Games for myself. Now, when I tell people about these, most of them laugh in my face as if I am joking. Truth be told, that hurts; it’s embarrassing to admit I created fun for myself by doing boring things.
One of my games involved getting a frisbee from the garage, throwing it to one of end the yard, walking to it and picking it up, and throwing it back to the other end. Repeat repeat repeat. Sometimes my dad would see me doing that and would come out to throw it to me for a while, but mostly I became well-acquainted with the topography of our yard. Another game I made up was taking a bucket of water and a paint brush and painting the garage. I’ve come to know that many children, siblings or not, played this same game, but I would paint myself next to other kids under trees and at the pool. I’m glad my mom couldn’t see what I painted on the garage from the kitchen because it probably would have depressed her.
One of my favorite only child games involved a baseball and my glove. I would stand in front of our garage, which had a sloped roof up to a peak in the middle, and I would toss the baseball onto the roof. I stood there with my glove out and would wait for gravity to force the ball back down the slope and into my mitt. Thanks, gravity, for playing catch with me. Eventually I convinced my parents to buy a basketball hoop so I could practice my lay-ups and free throws and I would draw with chalk and ride my scooter around the driveway, but all of this was done alone. I don’t think, at first, I realized how sad it was until I was a little older (10-12) and wished I had someone to play with.
I also began talking out loud to myself. I don’t do it in public, but when I’m alone I find myself making comments about things on TV or in a blog I’m reading out loud, totally subconsciously. I think I like hearing the sound of a voice and it’s like having a conversation, albeit one-sided. I have noticed my dad does the same thing, so I guess this is typical only child behavior. Or maybe we’re just two weirdos.
Why has this ruined my life? Well I still wish I had a sister or brother to hang out with sometimes. Go to lunch, see a movie, call them up when I need someone to listen to my problems, throw a party with for our parents, etc. But more than that, because I have such a small extended family (whom I don’t really see anymore), I’m scared for the future. I only have my parents in this world, and as they both approach 60 years old, I realize that eventually I will be on my own for good. That makes me very sad, and ever since I’ve started to think about it, I can’t seem to stop.
My parents have done everything for me and someday, who knows when, they won’t be there to call or visit. I know this is a reality everyone faces, but I think only children have to come to terms with this early and realize how important it is to spend time with their parents while they can. I just moved 800 miles from home two months ago and I miss my parents very much. I don’t like thinking about my life without them, but I won’t have brothers or sisters to lean on once they do pass away. That is the worst part about being an only child, hands down.
What was once sadness over only child games, talking to myself out loud and wishing I had a sibling for selfish reasons has quickly, seemingly overnight, become sadness for an inevitable future without my parents.