I am an only child, and not only that, I am an only child married to an only child! This is the allegedly the worst marital combination possible, as we are both supposed to be spoiled brats who can never relinquish the limelight to another. We are evidently selfish, stunted human beings who never learned to share (some would say we are all the more despicable because we never had children!) Obviously the world would have been a better place had we both been smothered at birth.
Despite the horrific, horrific I say, odds, Gordon and I will be celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary this spring. And I have a lot to say about this "selfish only child" bullsh*t, which is about as bad as the "You don't have children, ergo you are selfish!" bullsh*t.
My Mum, my Dad and me in a swimming pool somewhere
in western Ontario, sometime around 1965.
First off, let me just say that Gordon and I both LOVE being only children. We have both always LOVED it. In fact, the only time I had the slightest smidgen of a feeling of "A sibling might be nice!" was after both my parents had passed on and I no longer had any immediate family. But then I thought of all the battles over wills and estates that go on amongst siblings after parents die!
Now, I know there are people out there with wonderful siblings, and I do envy them those close relationships. But I have never known anything but being an only child, and I am happy with my situation. What gets me is when people feel SORRY for me for being an only child, or presume I must be a selfish freak, or that my childhood was lonely and pathetic because I had no brothers or sisters. And that just pisses me off! I mean, I don't presume other people are freaks because they have siblings, so why do they make gross generalizations about us "onlies"?
Gratuitous bathtub shot of me being held upright by Mum!
Even better are the people of childbearing age who tell us with a straight face that OF COURSE they are planning on having a second child because if they don't, their first child will be damaged and tortured by the lack of a brother or sister, and grow up to be some sort of sibling-less monstrosity with a twelve-foot-long rap sheet of psychological problems (because everyone knows that having siblings is a sure-fire way to avoid having psychological problems! - note sarcasm -)
And while people are proclaiming such nonsense to us, the only children, we are standing there with bemused looks on our faces, wondering where we fit in on their monstrosity scale! Really, I should save the world and go stick my head in a gas oven RIGHT NOW. - note sarcasm -
Mum, me, Dad and my Uncle Kevin peeking in from the corner.
Here's the scoop, people. Being an only child doesn't automatically turn you into a selfish, stunted freak, any more than having siblings will guarantee that you'll grow up to be a well-adjusted, generous marvel. For the record, Hitler had SEVERAL siblings. In fact, there are many ADVANTAGES to being an only child, and as for loneliness, I grew up next to a family with seven kids and never lacked for playmates. I also had lots of friends, not to mention cousins and of course pets.
Wikipedia has an entry on only children and the ridiculous stereotypes that have been debunked by numerous studies.
Mum and me at the park
Amusingly, a certain member of my extended family continually told my mother, throughout my childhood, that I was spoiled and would grow up to be a mess. As it turns out, her six children have all had issues and perhaps only one or two of them have made anything of their lives. One has been in jail repeatedly for dealing drugs and assaulting his wife. Despite my "handicap" of being an only child, I have done considerably better in life than THAT.
So please, people, stop judging us only children! (For that matter, stop judging those of us who chose not to have children! Oh wait, I know, just STOP JUDGING OTHER PEOPLE, period.) We are no more or less selfish or demented than those of you with siblings. Gordon and I have thus far led productive lives, have done lots of (unselfish) volunteer work, have ample friends, are involved in our community, and are quite happy with our sibling-less status, so please, spare your pity for people who really need it. And for the love of all things chocolate-y, stop telling us, to our faces, how you OF COURSE had to have a second child to prevent your first one from growing up to be a sick, twisted loner. Only children can do just fine without siblings, thanks very much. And the last time I checked, neither of us were sick, twisted loners. (Well, okay, I might be a little twisted, but that's what makes me creative!)