Being an only child. The truths and myths.

So, yeah. I’m an only child. This statement always gets a variety of comments ranging from “You’re probably spoiled” to “You must be crazy because you had to play with imaginary friends when you were younger”. I will completely admit, both are true.

Truth #1: Yes, we are a little self-centered and used to attention.  When you are the only kid, who else are your parents going to pay attention to? (Although, my mom has said that “I was about the equivalent of having 4 children. Anyone who knows me well is probably wanting to high five my mom right now.)  Luckily, I had great parents who were extremely patient with me. Even when I embarrassed them stepping out at my preschool “dance recital” having to have the spotlight and singing “I’m a little duck that goes quack quack” as I stepped in front of the entire class. I also was the youngest cousin out of MANY (who are all amazing, by the way) so I was like a little bundle of fun for them to all see. (Still am a bundle of fun, for the record.)

Truth #2: Yes, we are a little weird. Have I been called things like an “odd bird” before? Surely. But I am I the Unabomber who hides alone in a shed? No. Being that we don’t have siblings to go harass, we must make our own fun. So new friends that only appear in our heads begin to develop. It happens. I mean, I still talk to them.

Truth #3: We do have a hard time sharing things.  Ok- so give me a break here. If you’ve always had your own bedroom, your own clothes, your own cereal bowl, your own, well, EVERYTHING, it is a rude awakening for someone to have to impose on your turf. Why do you think I still live alone? (Wait…maybe this is why I’m still single….next….)

Truth #4: We are sensitive. As I said above, without having siblings to put us in our place, we sort of lack the “armor” to defend against teasing or people saying anything negative towards us. I have friends whose siblings said things to them that I couldn’t even repeat on Showtime After Dark. (Not in the creepy way, just the profanity laced way.) I never had that, so I didn’t know how to react.

Truth #5: We are jealous of those with siblings. I know not everyone has a perfect relationship with their siblings. But, we are a bit jealous of those who are very close with their brothers and sisters. Many of my close friends talk to their siblings every day, or at least multiple times a week. I don’t have the latest iPhone, so I can’t even talk to Siri.

Now, the myths:

Myth #1: We are all spoiled brats. Yes, we may be spoiled in certain ways, like I mentioned above, with attention-especially when you are the only child AND grandchild. But, that does not inherently make us “brats”. As one of my best friends has said, “You are spoiled but not a brat.” My parents are two of the most generous, friendly people I’ve ever met. And I think I’ve upheld that. I am fortunate to have lived the life I’ve had.

Myth #2: We can only relate to other only children. False. Of all of my close friends, I am one of the only ones without siblings. I think at times they think I am weird (see above) but we can have nice, normal relationships with those who do have siblings. Again, luckily, I have a large family that I can pretty much count on like I would with  siblings to go to with complaining/bragging/whatever.

Myth #3: We love to be alone. Actually, this couldn’t be further from the truth. We actually feel alone a lot of the time, and this is a detriment of being the only kid. We worry about what’s going to happen in the future. We worry about having to take care of our parents on our own.

These are my opinions on what life has been like, at least for me, as an only child. Now leave me alone so I can go catch up with those imaginary friends. It’s been a while.

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    Amy Litterski

    Born and bred Chicagoan. 30-something. Married to this guy I met 14 years ago at a Northwest side block party. Have a dog. Never thought those words would be in a description about me. University of Illinois alum. I've loved to write since age 4. I have some samples, they are pretty impressive, I promise. I enjoy coffee and hot sauce too much.

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