As some of you may know, I am a young leader at 2nd Emsworth Guides and every Thursday evening I spend a wonderful couple of hours with some amazing people. Recently we have had a lot of new guides join, the majority of whom are around the age of ten, and, like any ten year olds, they are inquisitive and curious about the lives of others especially those older than them. A few weeks ago, shortly before the Christmas break, I was sat with my best friend and a few of these new guides. Part of my role as a young leader is to get to know the guides within the group, and so we were just talking about silly, random things when we got onto the topic of siblings. Naturally they found out I was an only child and so being curious individuals they asked questions. You see, these guides both had two or three siblings and were interested in what life was like without them. Two questions that never fail to crop up, didn’t fail this time either. ‘Aren’t you lonely?’ was the first, shortly followed by ‘Do you wish you had siblings’?’ At the time I didn’t think much of the questions and answered my usual simple ‘sometimes’ to both and the conversation quickly moved on (to what, if I remember correctly, was a debate involving around ten people on the correct way to roast a marshmallow….). However, looking back and remembering those questions got me thinking. It felt weird giving such a short, one-worded answer to what, when viewed again, is not that simple of a question.
The first; ‘Aren’t you lonely?’ came from a small, slightly shocked voice right next to me. My simple ‘sometimes’ satisfied her curiosity but not mine. I began to really think about the question and the answer I gave; because it’s true sometimes I am lonely. I mean they don’t jokingly call us ‘lonely’ child for nothing. Having no siblings, as my friends with the so called ‘terrors’ frequently tell me, would be bliss, ‘all that peace and quiet’ they say. And yes, there is that but imagine, just imagine for one moment not having anyone around you most days, especially in the holidays. You might think that it is wonderful, what are you complaining about? You might ask. But the thing is I’m not, far from it. I appreciate the quiet and the ability to do what I want when my parents aren’t home without the responsibility/problem of siblings, but sometimes it does get lonely with no-one to talk to face to face except your parents. It can begin to feel boring and almost isolating. However, when my friends tell of the horror stories they have with their siblings I feel relieved. But there’s always another side to the story, another page to turn and this is apparent when I hear of the fun times, the pranks, the stupid things they’ve done together and that leads me to think about the second question asked to me….
‘Do you wish you had siblings?’ Once again I answered with a simple ‘sometimes’. Now the short and sweet explanation of this is presented above; annoying I-want-to-kill-you moments vs I’m-so-lucky-to-have-you-as-my-sibling moments. Upon hearing certain stories from my friends my answer could easily have been a clear, solid no. I mean, thank goodness I don’t have someone taking forever in the bathroom or hiding my things five minutes before we have to leave for school. When I hear things such as those I rejoice at being an only child. However there are times when I wish, and most definitely would say yes, to having a sibling. When I see my best friend laughing at an inside joke and sharing family memories with her sister, I begin to wish I had someone to reminisce with, to remember the hilarious time when dad did that thing or when you fell into that person and they….. It’s when my friend explains to me, and seems so happy with the fact that her sister is like her best friend, that my ‘sometimes’ becomes a ‘yes’.
What I'm trying to say is that it may not be as simple as it seems. If you have siblings, from observing my friends, I'm pretty certain you wouldn’t have a simple answer if asked ‘do you want siblings?’ or ‘do you like siblings?’ Or if like me you’re an only child would you be able to give a simple, certain answer to the questions? So think about them both the questions and you’re siblings and appreciate either the quietness from having nobody around or the (occasional) love/comfort you can receive from siblings. After all, as everybody says: you don’t know what you have till it’s gone.