September 27, 2012

21 Truths About Being An Only Child

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What is the issue?

1. Whenever you tell people you’re an only child, they skeptically look you up and down before saying something cryptically judgmental and casually insulting, like “Hmm really? You don’t seem like an only child,” or, worse, “Yeah, that makes a lot of sense actually.”

2. No matter how old you get, you’ll still always be an “only child.” It’d be cute if it wasn’t so patronizing.

3. People ask whether you had a lot of imaginary friends. Are they kidding? My imaginary friends had imaginary friends. Now excuse me while I place the second controller of my SEGA Genesis into the trusting hands of my teddy bear so we can get some two-player action going on in here [while weeping violently on the inside].

4. In the July 2010 issue of Time, Lauren Sandler wrote that, “Since the early ’60s… single-child families have almost doubled in number, to about 1 in 5.” You’d think this would have had some effect on the stigma toward only children, but nah, everybody still thinks we’re really self-conscious and self-obsessed.

5. By the way, it’s super annoying when you fulfill your own stereotype — I’m definitely self-conscious and self-obsessed to a fault; I still think that you might all just be figments of my imagination.

6. However, it’s hard to collect specific data on how many single-child families there are at any given time since it requires asking families if they plan on having more kids. Of course, a couple can say that they don’t plan on having more and, next thing you know, there’s another baby crawling around the living room floor and chewing on the baseboards.

In other words, these parents’ “mistakes” can lead to mistakes on census data.

7. Only children have no one whom they can call upon to check the validity of their “That’s too ridiculous to be true” childhood memories the way most people can with their brothers and sisters (i.e., “Is this just a really vivid dream I had, or did we once catch Dad smoking out of a light bulb in the garage?”). Of course, it’s not worth it to try and revisit these memories with your parents — everybody knows that the only people with a more distorted vision of your childhood than yourself are your parents.

8. There are definitely some weird parallels with The Shining and the childhood family vacation you guys took to Colorado that you all swore never to talk about again.

9. Despite expectations to the contrary, many only children hate being the center of attention and/or are not used to having to work for attention. I, for instance, tend to fade into the background during social situations, in some cases actually melding with couch upholstery or becoming trapped inside paintings of dogs playing poker.

Oh wait, that ties into the stereotype that we’re aloof and anti-social. Sometimes you just can’t win.

10. While only children tend to have over-protective parents, those parents are also naïve and easily deceived because they haven’t dealt with any other siblings. If you’re smart, you can use this knowledge to convince your parents stuff like, “I’m the only kid in 4th grade that hasn’t seen Scream yet!”

11. Famous only children include: FDR, Frank Sinatra, Lance Armstrong, and Elvis. Oh yeah, and some dude you may have heard of, goes by the name Jesus. You might remember him as the guy who invented magic tricks and being nice to other people, though. So yeah, there have been some pretty rad only children.

12. A lot of the stereotypes regarding only children are a result of the pioneering work of psychologist and researcher Granville Stanley Hall; in his 1896 study, “Of Peculiar and Exceptional Children,” (admittedly, a great title) Hall claimed that, “Being an only child is a disease in itself.” That kind of stings, but it seems important to note that one of Hall’s other main areas of study was tickling (seriously), so what the hell’s that all about? Also, I kind of like that quote because it reminds me of the part in Home Alone where Macaulay Culkin’s brother goes, “Kevin, you’re such a disease.”

13. From a young age, only children tend to view their parents as equals (equal to themselves, that is, although hopefully they also view their parents as each other’s equals). When my parents would stay up late, I’d wonder “Why can’t I?” When my parents would yell and fight, I’d wonder “Why can’t I?” Unfortunately, citing the hypocrisy of your parents is never an effective method for getting yourself out of trouble.

14. In China, many families are only allowed to have one child. So, the only patriotic thing to do is hope that our economic rival’s future workforce turns out to be a bunch of selfish, socially maladjusted jerks.

15. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average amount that a child costs his parents by the age of 18 (so not including college) is $169,080 for a family that makes about $59k annually, and $234,900 for a family that makes between $59k and about $100k annually. In other words, kids are expensive as hell; therefore, only children are more fiscally prudent and practical, like Toyotas and IKEA furniture.

16. Contrary to popular belief, only children aren’t always spoiled. In fact, they are often the product of economic concerns: the percentage of single-children families spiked to an all-time American high during the Great Depression because families simply couldn’t afford to have any more children. However, this may have also been due to FDR mandating that a maneuver known as “the pull-out method” be included as a provision of the New Deal.

17. Only children are three times as likely to develop the special power of X-ray vision.

JK, that’d be really cool, though.

18. Only children think of their best friends as their brothers and sisters. Despite our self-centeredness, we can be extremely loyal — our friends are everything.

19. However, many only children prefer the company of adults from a young age because they astutely realize that other kids are fuckin’ crrrrrazy.

20. Studies have repeatedly shown that only children are no different from their peers — not particularly lonely, maladjusted, selfish, etc. In fact, the only differences found have been generally positive — for example, possibly because their parents are able to dedicate more resources directly to them, only children tend to have more academic success. But there’s no doubt in my mind that being an only child is an indelibly altering experience that can be rewarding, but also impoverishing. If you listen to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast (and if you don’t, that’s weird), you know that Marc often talks about his struggle with living inside his own head — his inability to be in the moment, fully connected to the people and events surrounding him.

I will always be in my own head to some extent; I’m comfortable in here. I know where everything is, and there’s one of those hamster wheels for me to run on, endlessly circling my own perceptions of the world outside.

See, I’m doing it again.

21. We’re still not as weird as twins. TC mark

image – The Shining

Ted Pillow

Ted Pillow’s entirety can be revealed in a single sentence, but he accidentally sent us this one instead. His writing …

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