Posts Tagged ‘ only child ’

My “Only Child” And His “Pretend Friends”

Monday, April 14th, 2014

3 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

Something I’ve heard grown “only children” tell me about their own childhood is that they always had “pretend friends”. I am seeing that concept in action every day with you.

At the grocery store, in the car, at school, at church..

You have three favorites: “Ellie” the purple elephant, featured in The Nose Book, from the $5 section at Kohl’s; “Cheetie” the blue cheetah from the discount rack at Kroger; and “Panda” the red panda you created at Build-A-Bear for your 3rd birthday.

This past week the three of them were anointed as VIPs when you provided them their own t-shirts, to make them more like real friends.

I should point out that two of those shirts are actually mine from circa 1983, but hey, I don’t mind.

One of my favorite parts about your pretend friends is how you call out to them throughout the day, not speaking to them further until they answer you.

And by “they,” I mean Mommy or myself.

By default, I have learned that I provide the voice for Panda and Cheetie, because apparently they’re boys, while Mommy is the voice for Ellie because she’s a girl.

However, you call out to Ellie (the girl) far more than you do Panda and Cheetie (the boys).

What’s funny is that the voices Mommy provides for the female friends are in falsetto, so you have difficulty figuring out whether it’s really Mommy responding… because at least half the time it’s actually me, trying to trick you.

“Hey Ellie?” you call out to the next room.

Yes?” I reply, in a falsetto that sounds pretty much identical to Mommy’s.

“No, Daddy! You’re not a girl!” you always explain.

Yet, sometimes, even when Mommy answers you in her “Ellie” voice, you still wait for me to try to “trick” you just so you can reprimand me.

Your three friends have been so good to you, that Mommy recently had to run them through the washing machine, then set them out in the sun to dry.

(Mommy and I explained that your friends have to take baths just like you do.)

I think it’s fun that you have three pretend friends that wear my old t-shirts from when I was your age.

At least I can see your friends… so much better than imaginary friends.

We keep asking you if you want a brother or sister, but you insist on a  real dog instead.

Eh… I think we’re better off with a purple elephant, a blue cheetah, and a red panda… all of which wear t-shirts. Plus, I don’t have to feed these animals like I would a real dog.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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Just The Mention Of A New Sibling Makes My Son “Remember”

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

3 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

It’s interesting how sometimes you magically forget how to do such daily tasks:

“Mommy, help me eat my applesauce. I forgot how…”.

Of course, you especially love to forget how to clean up after yourself after playtime. I contrast this against the fact you always do such a great job of putting away your toys and puzzles when I pick you up from school each day.

You never need your teacher or me to tell you to do so.

Meanwhile, back at our house, not only do Mommy and I have to tell you, but we have to tell you a lot.

This past weekend as I was doing the dishes, Mommy asked you to put away your toys before getting ready for bed.

“Mommy, I don’t know how to. I forgot how to pick up my toys,” you announced.

Mommy responded, “Jack, do you want a brother or sister? That way they can help you pick up your toys?”

Immediately, you began cleaning up your toys. You didn’t even bother answering Mommy. It was one of the quickest clean-ups you’ve ever performed.

How did you so instantly remember how?

It seems as if the thought of a baby brother or sister getting to play with your toys is a bit troubling for you. As Mommy and I regularly (half-jokingly?) ask you if you want to have a brother or sister, your reply is typically the same:

“I want a poodle. A pink one. Or a brown one. Or maybe a hedgehog.”

So lesson learned. The next time you “forget” how to do something, I guess we’ll have to “remind” you, now that we know how.

There’s no guarantee you’re going to be an only child, you know. I’m just as curious as you are about what will happen over the next few years.

There’s also no guarantee we could definitely have another child if we decided we want to, so I don’t take that for granted. However, it’s interesting to see how you’re already reacting at just the mention of another sibling.

The “only child” in you is showing.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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Raising A Little Adult… I Mean, Only Child

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

2 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

A few weeks ago when you began your obsession with trying to find a pink Hummer on the way to school, I finally had to break the news to you as softly as I could:

“You don’t see a lot of pink Hummers on the road, Jack. You really don’t see a lot of pink cars at all, really.”

Since that day, you have been using my phrase “you don’t see a lot of” to refer to any possibly peculiar or slightly rare vehicles you see as we drive around Nashville.

“A blue dump truck!” You paused for two seconds, then continued, as if recovering from deep thought:

“You don’t see a lot of blue dump trucks.”

This weekend I helped you make the poor man’s version of a Thomas the Train table by connecting all your plastic Take-N-Play tracks and playsets across our coffee table and couch.

You’ve got this new Hot Wheels van that serves as, I assume, a post-Rapture, pre-Apocalypse survival vehicle.

The entire back of the van is enclosed in what I think is supposed to be bulletproof glass, containing inside a tiny bed, a giant computer, and what appear to be giant tanks of oxygen.

As you considered letting the van cross the bridge from the table to the couch, alongside my Gremlin from the 1980s, you proclaimed, “You don’t see a lot of weird orange vans.”

The reason this story is funny to me is because when you say “you don’t see a lot of” it makes me think of you as a little adult.

That just doesn’t sound like a phrase a nearly 3 year-old goes around saying.

(However, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that using unusual, adult-sounding phrases is actually pretty typical of kids your age.)

I’ve heard that raising an “only child” is like raising a little adult.

I could see that…

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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When I Was 2 Years, 9 Months Old, I Became A Brother

Friday, August 16th, 2013

2 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

My mom (known to you as Nonna) texted me this morning to point out the interesting fact that when I was 2 years, 9 months old, it was January 1984.

That’s when my sister (your Auntie Dana) was born. In other words, when I was your age, I became an older brother.

Just so I can put this into perspective for myself, that means that even if during the next couple of years, you end up getting a baby brother or sister, the age difference between you and him or her will definitely be greater than the age difference between my sister and me.

Each month and each year that passes in which you remain an only child, it makes me wonder if you will always be one.

Will you become that “little adult” than only children are often referred to as?

When we go on family vacations, will it just be you in goofy touristy photos like these from the Sacramento Zoo?

I mean… I’m curious, but not that curious.

There’s no sense of urgency, but I when consider I was already a big brother by your age, it does make me think about your fate of whether or not you will have a sibling.

Perhaps I write to you about the subject of “will you or will you not remain an only child?” quite often.

No, not perhaps- I totally do.

But for me, it’s not a subject to be dealt with lightly. For our family, there is a lot of careful planning and consideration involved.

By now, I’m way past caring about anyone else’s expectations of our family growing.

I’m even way past what I perceive in my own mind of what the normal American family is supposed to be; which I suppose the image I have in my head includes at least two kids and a dog.

But we’re not even a “dog family.” Or cat lovers.

We’re not animal people at all! Except for the fact we enjoy going to zoos as a type of a default hobby because our Nashville Zoo Pass is transferable to other major zoos.

Life is unfolding slightly different than I planned it. I always wanted four kids.

Then you were born. And I realized, I feel plenty enough of a dad now.

I feel like I can live my entire life satisfied in knowing I get to raise you and have a lifelong relationship with you.

You may never know what it’s like to be a big brother. Are you okay with that?

 

Love,

Daddy

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What Are The “Right Reasons” For Having Another Child?

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

2 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

Something I am really enjoying about our vacation this year is that you have older cousins here to babysit and entertain (and “dote” on) you the entire time.

Granted, that doesn’t mean I have no responsibilities. I’m still helping with meals, baths, and bedtime. But for the most part, I sort of feel like I’m actually on vacation a little bit more than usual.

You’re having plenty of fun and it’s okay that I have more of passive role this week.

And that takes me back to a question I asked earlier this month in “Still, Though, I Think I’d Be Happy With Just One Child.”

Here’s an excerpt:

“My reasons for wanting another child, when I sporadically do, are never sincere enough or truly legitimate… If we’re going to grow our family, I want it to be ‘for the right reasons,’ and I’m not even sure what they are anyway.”

So since I wasn’t sure, I asked my friends on Facebook, “What are the “right reasons” for having another child?… What are the wrong reasons?”

My friend Alissa summed it up perfectly, in my opinion: “The right reasons are if you want another child. The wrong are if other people tell you you should.”

On top of that, my friend Rhonda gave me an answer I related to 100% at this point in my life:

“Someone asked me this the other day, and when I got honest it just came down to not wanting the responsibility & stress of more children. Selfish maybe, but true. No plans right now to have any more.”

I love her simple honesty.

It’s true for me, personally. Because it’s not that I can’t handle the responsibility and stress of a child. Instead, I am saying that the responsibility and stress of another child, in addition to one already, is enough of a reason to justify not having another child.

Others may disagree, but I don’t see anything selfish about admitting that.

I don’t see it as selfish for me to feel, think, and say out loud that you make our family complete and that if it’s up to me, at this point, I would choose not to take on more responsibility and stress like that. Again, that could change.

Like clockwork, Mommy could find out we’re having another baby around your 4th birthday. That seems to be the ironic plot line for families of three who plan to remain families of three, at least.

I guess we’ll see, kid.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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