I’ve written about being an only child before, but I mostly focused on the humorous aspect, like how we’re all a bunch of loveable narcissistic boobs. We’re a complex bunch, we only children, but outside of the attention-loving and the non-sharing, the most complicated part of our anatomy is the abandonment issues. We’re typically fearful of everyone dying and leaving us alone forever. It’s a subject I investigated more clearly in my recent post on Culture Map, “Growing Up Solo: The Habits and Hardships of Being an Only Child“. This one was definitely difficult to write. Sat their staring at the computer screen with that scrunched-up silent crying face for a good five minutes.
The other day I picked up an anthology of short stories about only children at Book People. That’s the sort of thing we only children do—try to find books that explain why the hell we are the way that we are. You see, being an only child is not easy. It doesn’t come with instructions.
Sure, you get tons of gifts at Christmas, the sole attention of your parents and a bedroom all to yourself. However, being an only child can be very lonely. It can cause you to become disorientated when you’re not the focal point of every conversation. It can cause you not to share. Me? I have a problem sharing my food, my mother will readily tell you. I turn into a deranged animal if you ask for a bite. An infamous story involving a pickle and lack of generosity on my part prompted my mother to buy me a cucumber Christmas ornament as a reminder of my gormandizer ways. But come on, a pickle is like subsistence gold to an only child of Jewish decent…