The day we found out I’m not pregnant (again), Dave, Viv and I went walking in our neighborhood and spotted an adorable family. A smiling mom watched her son and daughter – ages 3 and 5 – racing up and down a grassy hill, squealing with laughter. “Do they always get along so well?” I asked. She told me they fight sometimes, but mostly they’re great friends. In fact, she said, “Sometimes I try to join them and they tell me, ‘No adults allowed.’” I could sense her pride in their bond. I want that for Viv.
There are many reasons I’d love to have a second child, but a big one is my desire to provide my daughter with an always-there buddy. A playmate that goes beyond play dates. 24/7 access to the kiddie clubhouse. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of the weird shit my brother and I got up to – stuff only kids could have invented.
We made forts by draping old rolls of carpet over logs. We caught toads and tried to train them (unsuccessfully) for a circus. We played a game that can best be described as dodgeball in a tree. One of us climbed to the top, the other stood at the bottom with a ball—5 points for the limbs and 10 for the head. How awesomely fun and dangerous was that?
I know there are no guarantees. Some kids never play well together, and even my brother (love you!) would tell you I was a nightmare big sister a lot of the time. But if there’s no sibling, who’s going to be there for Viv to make up secret passwords and nonsensical songs and inside jokes? Who will play three straight hours of Yahtzee? Who will watch The Little Mermaid AGAIN? Okay, Dave and I will try. We’ll do our best. But will we ever be able to mimic the playtime stamina or pure imagination of an actual sibling? I have my doubts.
If you’re an only child, or a parent of an only child, I need some help here. How do you create the best parts of the sibling experience without a sibling? Lots of cousin time? Multi-family trips?
What about all that stuff like sharing, negotiating, winning, losing and finding your individual place in the world – how does all that happen without brothers and sisters crowding your ass? This is one mommy who would really like to know.