I Am Not An Only Child

warning-Only-ChildI talked to my sister on the phone tonight. She is in Grand Rapids for the night, but she will be someplace else tomorrow. I am where I am going to be for the foreseeable future. And that’s okay. She is one of those fly-by-night sorts that I envy but that I could never be (and I mean that in the most literal of ways, I assure you). Don’t get me wrong, I used to be one of those people who packed up at a moment’s notice and headed elsewhere, but I think I’ve mellowed as I’ve aged. I know my hair has certainly mellowed. When I was younger I could grow an afro like nobody’s business, and now, after a year’s growth, it still doesn’t look like much more than I missed a couple weeks’ worth of cuts at the barber shop.

But anyway, I talked to my sister on the phone tonight for the first time in over a month, and while that’s unacceptable it’s certainly understandable given our crazy schedules, and our attempts to reconcile them with each other. Luckily we hit on it tonight, or at least she did, because I was just sitting here exhausted, writing, and she called my cell. Because I have a new phone it kept vibrating and I had no clue what was going on (now I know), but I called her back and we had a wonderful conversation. We were able to do that because I am not an only child.

Only children are odd, but not in an odd way. They’re odd because I don’t understand them, how they operate. My wife is an only child, and I tease her about it often, but it’s real, the struggle of only children. They will never know the joy of riding on a long trip with their siblings and playing the license plate game, sharing Twizzlers, or saying, “Are we THERE yet?!” at the top of their lungs trying to outscream each other. Only children spent all of their time either being spoiled or being told to appreciate what they have. There were no hand-me-downs, no arguments about who gets to sit in the front seat, no plethora of birthdays to remember, and no getting jealous over nonequivalent Christmas gifts.

Which is funny, because for some reason I’ve always been attracted to only children. Maybe it’s that I’ve always felt it was a challenge because their parents have invested so much in them and only them ,that the vetting process would be worth the hassle in order to say that, “yes, I’m the ONE who your ONLY daughter wants to be with.” And just reading that out loud I can see where that would seem incredibly shallow, but that’s now how it’s meant. You see, I’m not an only child, so I don’t know how the other side thinks, and I do my best to figure it out on a daily basis.

Oh, and it’s my oldest brother’s birthday today but for the life of me I don’t know how old he actually is, so I’m feeling a bit inadequate as a brother, even though we didn’t grow up together so maybe I shouldn’t know. Perhaps it’s just the expectations of society that make me feel so inadequate, but I did wish him a happy birthday. Maybe I’m covered. That’s the other thing about having siblings, though, that there are more expectations, more nieces and nephews, even more birthdays to remember, the pressures of being the best brother, uncle, cousin, and everything else that comes along with not being an only child. But I don’t think I would trade in all of that for the chance at being the only one, because I love my siblings, and I wouldn’t even know what to do if I didn’t have them.

I am not an only child, but it’s okay if you are. I don’t judge only children. They’re just different from me, and that’s okay. But I’ve never been an only child, so if you are, please bear with me. I’m a work in progress.

Sam

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