Wednesday, August 7, 2013

One and only!

I am an only child and was one of the very few only children in my class at school. People would ask me if I didn’t miss having a sibling and frankly I didn’t! Though one could argue that I had no frame of reference or an idea what life would have been had there been a sibling, I don’t remember ever having pestered my mother for a sibling (Correct me if I am wrong….amma!) Anyway, I was an only child at a time when “single children” were an aberration!  Today there are a lot more parents making that choice! Well, Abhay is an only child…(at least so far!) and I find the whole world offering me unsolicited advice on why he can’t do without a sibling! One, two or more children, that is a decision best left for the parents themselves. Of course, there have been a few occasions when Abhay has wondered why he doesn’t have a brother or a sister like some of his friends, and that is but natural. But that doesn’t mean I am to explain myself to everybody right from nosy acquaintances to my maid as to why Abhay is the only child!  In so far as how they turn out as adults, rest assured that they are as self-involved, sociable, flexible or inflexible as anybody else with siblings. It’s not just research, but also experience ….hey! I turned out fine, now didn’t I? J

Well, jokes apart, while it may be true that single children do not enjoy the company of a sibling when growing up, it is also true that single children grow up a lot more independent and comfortable being all by themselves basking in their solitude, which may not always be the case with children growing up with siblings. So when I found this book recommended by the Hillsboro children’s book newsletter (Yes……I still subscribe to it!), I had this one sent in by a relative returning from the US. “One of a kind’ by Ariel S. Winter and illustrated by David Hitch is a hilarious take on the “single child misgivings” that one might have. Of course, this book does poke fun at twins…just as the “onlies” might find themselves in the spot for being sibling-free! This is a story of Lysander Singleton, who as the surname suggests is the only  “only child” in Twin Oaks Elementary, a school full of twins. No matter how hard Lysander tried, he couldn’t fit in with everyone else who had a twin studying in the same class, sitting at the same desk and Lysander being the only one sitting alone at his desk! But when it was time for the annual Twindividuaton competition, a day-long event meant to encourage individuality, Lysander finally had his chance. First all the twins were separated and were given non-matching uniforms. With no sibling to be individuated from, Lysander expected to be left out but he soon discovers that he is much in demand. At each round, the twins separated from their siblings struggled to perform solo…be it at a choral performance, or at creative writing on “what makes you unique from any other person, including siblings" or the Isolated Ice cream enquiry where the children each choose from forty-five ice cream flavours without the benefit of a sibling consultation (very funny!)   or the one-man relay, whereas Lysander had no trouble at all! In fact Lysander was used to carry a tune on his own, tackled the written essay with finesse and even chose his “Monkey Butter Chocolate chip” in a record setting 15 seconds! When the scores tallied, no prizes for guessing who the winner was! Lysander was the proud winner of the “Simondon-Stiegler” cup, the individual award for individuality and realized that he was after all, proud to be the only “only child” in Twin Oaks Elementary! So here's to Abhay and every other single child…sibling or no sibling….be proud of your own unique self and remember you will always be “one of a kind” for your parents! J

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