Does only have to mean lonely?
So absolutely everyone we know is pregnant with their second or third child. Seriously, there are about five of our friends in various states of pregnancy right now. We’re not. There’s no medical reason for this, no particular envy or jealousy for those that are, but it has got me thinking. We don’t know if we want a second child. Gasp! I know. There seems to be a certain reaction when you say that you might be done to the (many) people asking. Surprise followed by justification (others justifying it to us, not the other way round). We’re not saying it will never happen but right now we’re just really enjoying the one child that we’ve got. And we feel very lucky to have him. He’s ridiculously cute and funny. See.
I’m an only child and I never really felt much need or want for a sibling and I don’t understand how those relationships work. The adult sibling relationships around me all seem very complicated. Loving, but complicated and I’m a pretty isolated little person and quite honestly grateful for not having a brother or sister. Am I like this because I never had one or is this just my personality? If so, having a sibling would have been difficult, crushing probably and I can honestly say that I enjoyed (and still enjoy) being part of a family of three.
Milo is currently convinced that there is a baby in my tummy (no, just cake sweet boy), and in his daddy’s tummy (also cake) and in his own (yep, cake). What does this mean though? Does he want a brother or sister? Is he just curious because all his friends seem to be getting them? I don’t know, but it got me thinking about children’s books and how I just don’t know of any that deal with this particular issue, or how one would. Do you? I’d love to hear about them if you do.
Naturally I turned to google and up came an interesting discussion on amazon from a lady looking for books for her little girl (an only child), that showed positive, strong, only children. These were the books that arose:
Snake’s Mistake (Maya’s Little Friends)
Something Else by Kathryn Cave and Chris Riddell
The Dragon’s Child by Jenny Nimmo
Charlotte’s Web by EB White
Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole
Matilda by Roald Dahl (great because Matilda chooses to be an only child)
The Ottoline series by Chris Riddell
An interesting list with lots of feisty, strong girls. From my own reading as a child and adult I would add Judy Blume’s Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret – I know there’s a brother in this book, but he was sick for the most part and also just not as important as everything else. Meg Cabot’s wonderful Princess Diaries series – Mia gets a little brother by the end of the series but he’s pretty insignificant!
I did enjoy reading books about about sibling relationships as a child. My Naughty Little Sister books were a huge favourite of mine. I did not like that little sister and would not have liked having her in my life!
The Enchanted Woods and Faraway Tree tales, I always thought that being one of three children would be better than being a one of two and oddly (pre-Milo) I thought I would possibly have three children if I didn’t just stick to the one. And I always thought a little brother sounded better than a little sister.
And later with Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Three is a bit of a magical number in children’s literature.
It’s a tricky thing though, what with all the books out there for children who are about to become older brothers or sisters, that there are none for those who aren’t. I don’t know how that book would be written either. I did read an article recently that I can’t find now that said that only children have a stability and confidence that children with siblings don’t always have. I don’t know how you can make those associations when every child born is so terribly different in personality, but it makes me hopeful that Milo won’t grow up to have those irritating stigmas that can be associated with being an only, lonely child and if he did, he wouldn’t care about it.
Milo will of course have a lot of friends – he’s very sociable and loves other kids and babies. He’ll also have books and as dorky and sad as it might be to say, but they served as much as family and friends to me growing up as “real” people did. Maybe why I never felt like an odd only child was because I always had the brothers and sisters in books and all the imagination in the world that I needed. The real thing never seemed that necessary.
To be sure that Milo’s okay though, he’ll have on his shelf the biggest list of books with feisty heros and heroines I can find (Artemis Fowl, Alex Rider, Harry Potter, and Jacqueline Wilson’s books of which there are plenty of only children) with not a sibling rescue in sight! How could he ever be lonely with all of these wonderful stories to keep him company?!