Moms often look down with such regret and sorrow at my daughter just before they get an expression on their face that I’ve come to know. Even predict. Their eyes droop as they simultaneously lower their voice into a pitiful croak, barely audible except to both me and my daughter. Great. “Why don’t you have another one?”, “Poor Katie must be SO LONELY”, “It’s selfish to expect her to be on her own”, “She’ll never learn to share like that”, “The second one is always easier” (usually coming from those who don’t know she isn’t my bio-baby) or “You have to experience the joy of having your own child” (a discussion on this comment is best reserved for its own blog).
What these moms don’t know is that, after their strangely personal plea to me to create a companion for Katie, she invariably whips her blue eyes up to me with a, “Please don’t tell me you’re thinking of having a baby! I don’t want a brother!” Now, of course, she doesn’t really have much say over whether or not she will remain an only child. But, the point is, really, that Only Children (OC) are really quite happy being that way.
And I know because I was an only child. The people that feel the strongest about my not having any more kids have always been those who grew up with siblings. So they don’t know. But, Katie and I do. So, we are the best qualified to share the advantages.
1. Focus – instead of having to have meaningful one-on-one time with two or three little ones that each have their own set of issues or concerns to share, I get to focus on one little person. When she’s telling me how a girl at school called her greasy, I don’t have to interrupt her to tell her brother to blow his nose or to pick up a tired toddler that missed her afternoon nap.
2. Time – I’ve never met a mom with spare time, to be frank, but to divide what they do have between two or more children is tough. And I admire it. But, I don’t have to do it, and it’s to our advantage.
3. Woosah – We’re both more relaxed. Even as a child, I was more relaxed. No-one put gum in my hair (unless I did it myself), no-one told my mom when I did something wrong (she just knew), and I was never forced to share a bath / bed / pillow with anyone. And this hasn’t made us selfish, I don’t think. Both Katie and I are happy to share. In fact, I sometimes think it’s easier because we’ve always been able to choose to share. ANother only child win!
4. Maturity – I’ve often found that OC are mature. Maybe it’s because they’ve always hung out with their parents and their friends. Of course, this isn’t a rule, and it’s not to say that other kids aren’t mature. Of course they are. But so are OC.
5. Imagination – when you don’t have a sibling to play your game, you invariably end up playing all of the roles or creating imaginary scenes. We often hear Katie giggling, yelling, whispering and explaining in her room. To no-one, really. But, to her, she has a world of friends, a classroom of pupils, an opera house of fans, or a legion of bees that are ready for battle against the greedy grasshoppers.
6. It’s cheaper – this is a biggy. A movie and snacks are almost R100 a person now. I have a friend with five children. I just can’t imagine having to pay R600 (including my ticket and snacks) for a movie. And that’s not even touching on school fees, food, medical costs, travel. Wow.
I think that the most important lesson I’ve learnt is that there is no right answer. I want one child and that’s right for me. Other parents want two, three, five, seven. And that’s also ok.