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January 2013 / Bronx/​Riverdale Family / Brooklyn Family / Long Island Family / Manhattan Family / Queens Family / Staten Island Family / Columnists / Letter from College

Being an only child

Being an only child

When I was younger, I hated being an only child. Yet, my friends at school constantly told me how lucky I was not to have siblings.

“You don’t have to share your toys,” “You can get all the attention you want,” and “You get your own room,” they would gush jealously.

This was completely baffling to me. I pined for siblings to play with and even asked Santa one year to bring me a little baby sister! Sometimes, it was just too lonely. There were times when I desperately needed someone my own age I could relate to. However, I eventually came to realize that being an only child isn’t so bad after all.

Being an only child did not mean much to me when I was very little. This changed when I entered school. During recess, my friends would always complain about their brothers and sisters, or share hilarious stories about their siblings. I felt left out during these conversations and wished I could fume about a nonexistent sibling, too.

Whenever I had play dates with my friends who had siblings, I got a tantalizing taste of sibling interactions.

One of my best friends had two younger siblings who she played with and took care of. They constantly hugged her and followed her around obediently like baby ducks behind their mother. I was envious. My friend not only had enough people to play tag, hide-and-seek, and duck-duck-goose whenever she wanted, but she also had so much affection and attention from her younger siblings.

At times, I was frustrated of being turned away by my parents when I wanted to play. However, without anyone else to play with, I learned to deal with the occasional boredom, and created my own entertainment and fun. I would traipse around the house, engaging in all types of role-playing games. Without siblings, I took on every role, even enlisting my dog, stuffed animals, and dolls to play along. While playing house, I would pretend to be the mother, my dog would be the father, and my doll would be the baby. My creativity also provided me with activities I could do on my own — arts and crafts, singing, brainteasers, and puzzles.

Learning to cope as an only child helped to inspire my imagination and creativity. Also, being an only child allowed me to devote time to my own hobbies and interests. In the end, I always found some way to have fun.

Being an only child has led me to develop a sound and loving relationship with my parents. I am fortunate enough that my parents shower me with all their love and attention, especially while I was growing up. Because I do not have siblings, my parents and I spend a lot of time together. When I was little, my mom would play dollhouse with me and my dad would teach me how to make paper chains. Nowadays, they teach me new things like how to cook or do laundry. We enjoy family weekend outings, having dinner at a restaurant, or biking at the park. They understand that I need them to be a listening ear, sounding board, and just all-around support.

Communication with my parents has been an essential part of my life. I have become very close with my parents. They have always been there for me, giving me their honest advice. Now more than ever, I value being able to talk to my parents so openly. They have helped me cope with stress, bullying, applying for colleges, and navigating high school in general. Maintaining a candid relationship with my parents has really helped me grow.

Additionally, my reliance and relationship with my parents have helped me discover a newfound appreciation for them. They are two of the most important people in my life and I know not to take that for granted. Without siblings at home, I can focus all of my attention on loving and taking care of my parents. I am getting more mature and my parents are getting older. My parents have already started to rely on me to help them out. My dad’s memory is growing a little gray and he sometimes needs help remembering where we parked our car. My mom often needs me to carry heavy shopping bags for her.

Being an only child, I will inherit the sole responsibility of caring for my parents. It is a duty I am honored and looking forward to doing.

My perspective has changed about being an only child. I understand that with the occasional loneliness of being an only child there comes some perks. Growing up, my experience has taught me to make the best out of my situation. I have been provided with many opportunities and have learned so much about family. Sure, at times I still wonder what it would’ve been like to have siblings. Yet, ask me now, and I wouldn’t want to change a thing.

Aglaia Ho is a 17-year-old student from Queens who enjoys writing. Her work has been published in Creative Kids, Skipping Stones, Daily News/Children’s Pressline, and The State of the Wild.

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