Siblings. They’re a weird bunch. One minute best of friends and the next shouting at each other and announcing they are never going to play with them again. Frankly it’s a mystery. I can say that as an only child. The whole concept of brothers and sisters is alien to me. I grew up very happily as the only child of two loving parents who didn’t spoil me in the material sense of the word but certainly gave me all their spare time and attention. I can remember friends asking if I missed having a sister and of course I didn’t. How can you miss something you’ve never had? I even told my mum I didn’t want her to have any more children because I didn’t want to share her. It actually wasn’t my parents’ plan to only have one child. There were problems when I was born and they were told it would be dangerous to have another baby. My mum was always very relieved when people were surprised I was an only child as it meant I wasn’t growing up spoilt.
My husband is an only child as well so large families in general are not something we have much experience with. For me as a child a full family gathering at Christmas, including aunts, uncles and cousins was probably 14 people. I know for a fact some people have that for a normal Sunday lunch so having extended family at celebrations makes my mind boggle.
Yet when my husband and I decided to have children we always assumed we would have two – I don’t know why! I was a bit reluctant at first as, along with most people, I couldn’t imagine loving another child as much as I loved our son but two and half years later our daughter was born and of course I was just as besotted. I read so many articles about how to introduce a new baby to an older sibling. We bought a present ‘from his little sister’ and made sure I wasn’t holding her when he first came in. We gave him lots of attention and he got plenty of presents but about eight weeks later he still said ‘when is she going back to the hospital?!’
Now they are older and the majority of the time they get on very well. Olivia absolutely adores her older brother and Ben is very protective of his sister. But they still have moments of intense arguing. It’s never violent but there is full on shouting and yelling often followed by ‘I’m never playing with you again’ or ‘you’re never coming in my room again’ I suppose that’s what confuses me the most. It’s such an intense relationship that you don’t have with any other person and I’ve never experienced it so I never know whether to step in or let them sort it out themselves. Despite it all on Olivia’s birthday this year the one thing she wanted most of all was to sleep in Ben’s room with him and he was more than happy for that to happen.
So while I still don’t really understand the sibling thing I’m glad they have each other and I hope they stay friends as they get older. But for the record I still love being an only child!