Yesterday I was chatting with someone about road trips. We were discussing our favorite Californian destinations when she asked the inevitable question....
"How many kids do you have?"
"Just the one?" People always say this. I'm not sure what they expect me to say. No, I say I have only one but I really have another child who I keep in a closet and only bring out to parade around occasionally. I put them back in the closet when they become too much trouble. Yes, it's one. And I'm darn proud of it!
"Yes, just the one. How about you?"
"Oh I have four. Don't you think he would be.....lonely? I mean on a road trip just by himself, why doesn't he bring a friend?"
Ah, the myth of the lonely only. Let me tell you all something; I was an only all through high school and I loved every second of it. No having to share a bathroom or the tv, and trips meant an entire back seat and my parents attention all to myself. It was pure heaven. I'm sure that sometimes Jake is lonely. It's human nature to want what we don't have; I would love a million dollars, but my chances of having it are slim. Jake knows there's no chance of a younger sibling, and he's quite okay with it. Is he lonely on our trips? I sincerely doubt it.
Jake is a kid that likes his space; I can often find him holed up in his room playing lego or reading, and while he likes to have friends over he seems relieved when they have gone home. Somehow the thought of another child in his space within the confines of a car don't seem that appealing to him, or to us. Maybe when he's older, but for now, it's just the three of us. Vacations are a time to really indulge Jake's zest for science and we visit all sorts of places that other kids his age may not be interested in. It's enrichment and quality family time at it's best because we sincerely just love each other's company.
As I explain this to my friend, she sighs and tells me the perils of having four kids. How they fight in the back seat and she often has to pull over and just get out of the car until they cool off. That sometimes the simple act of eye contact between sibs can set off a scream of, "she's looking at me!"
I smiled back and couldn't help myself.
"Well, that alone is one of the perks of having an only child."
So don't feel sorry for us because we have only one. We don't judge those with three or more kids; even though I don't think I could handle that many.
Instead, before you immediately wonder if the only is lonely, remember that our family may be smaller then yours....but it's got a whole lotta love in it.