Reflections of an Only Child

Originally published December 25, 2010

I am an only child. There are advantages to being an only child. For example, I never had to share a bedroom, share clothes, wait in line to use the bathroom, and there was always enough of my favorite stuff to eat and drink. No matter how you look at it, these are good things and certainly worth the price of being a little lonely every once in a while.

Growing up there were no annoying siblings around to rival my parents’ attention either. Nope. My mom and dad showered me with lots and lots of attention. Mostly, this was a good thing, as my cousins, most of whom had multiple siblings (remember I’m Italian-Catholic), took every opportunity to remind me. One or both of my parents was always available for things like quizzing me for tests, driving me to gymnastics practice, listening to me play Carnival of Venice on the flute whenever the mood struck me, or playing hours and hours of charades or huckle-buckle-beanstalk when I was bored and there was no one else around to keep me occupied.

Of course, sometimes being an only child had its drawbacks. Say for example, the pristine white canvas of your freshly painted closet wall proved too much for you to resist and you spontaneously wrote all over it with brand new colored chalk. You’d immediately regret it, and quickly try to cover your tracks by re-hanging all of the clothes that were removed so your dad could paint your closet in the first place.

Being an only child also might be a disadvantage if you failed to control an impulse you might have to, I don’t know maybe, carve a large calligraphy style capital letter A into the wall over your parents’ bed. I’m not saying it actually happened, I’m just saying if it did,  once it was discovered by your parents, being an only child might not necessarily be such a good thing.

“Antoinette, did you write on your closet wall with chalk?”

“I don’t know.”

“Really? So are you saying your dad sat in your closet and wrote on the wall after he went to the trouble of taking all of your clothes out so he could put a fresh coat of paint on it for you?”


Or how about this…

“Antoinette, who carved the letter A into the wall above my bed?”

“Somebody whose name starts with A maybe? Do you think daddy did it?”

My parents names are Albert and Ada, so really it could have been anyone of us who carved that letter A. Okay. Maybe not, but as you can see, escaping consequences of a mischievous streak is difficult when you’re an only child. There is no innocent, unsuspecting sibling on whom to pin the blame, and unless your infractions include things like stealing food from the garbage or chewing a perfectly good pair of shoes to shreds, blaming the dog isn’t going to diffuse the heat either. I suppose one benefit of this is that you learn, at a very young age, to take responsibility for your actions.

There’s no getting around it. When you’re an only child you learn it’s just best to tell the truth and  bear the rational consequences of your actions. That is a good thing. Yes, that is a good thing, indeed.

Copyright © 2010 Antoinette Datoc All Rights Reserved