The one and only

oshua is an only child and there are positives and negatives with having no siblings :

On the positive side, Joshua has our full attention,  everything can be about him. We can allow him to sleep until lunchtime at weekends as there is no sibling who needs to get  to football club or dance class. As a family, we can eat out or go on holiday to destinations that suit Joshua. We only have one child to get to and from school so that is simpler than juggling several schools and attending more than one school’s events. I have always been curious, during our many hospital stays, how larger families cope  : for me its simple, Joshua needs to be in hopsital and so I can stay with him, but it is much more complex when there are other children to organise, so that their lives go on undisturbed during the hospital stay. I recall a single mum staying on a ward with us and she had the patient and two toddlers with her in the small hospital bay , they were not even in a family room. That must have been so stressful.

Joshua has the full attention of two parents and so he is cared for on a 2:1 ratio, which has to be easier than for single parents or large families. But there are also downsides to being an only child for Joshua :

All of his life, Joshua has mixed more with adults than children; even now, he is more responsive to adults, although that indifference to most children is lessening now as he is becoming more aware of his peers – in particular female peers! I am concerned that Joshua has had less fun growing up as an only child, as he has missed out on the games and pranks that I played with my sister and the secrets like we shared. I have always wished that Joshua had a big sister or brother to look out for him; to be protective of him and to stand up for him if that role was ever required. I have seen that role in other families that I know and I am envious of that, on his behalf. Or a younger sibling might have been someone to play and communicate with, someone he could have developed with at the same time, even though ulitmately the little brother or sister would have outgrown him developmentally.

If we had already had a ‘normal’ child, then we as parents would have been more prepared for the journey that Joshua has taken us on. We would have had some point of reference and comparison that could have been helpful, especially in the early years. But instead, it has all been unchartered territory and so we, like most new parents, muddled through as best we could. Even from a young age I have tried to supplement our small family unit with friends, family and even pets, so that Joshua has not felt lonely or isolated.

If Joshua could tell us and we asked if he wished that he had siblings, I suspect that he would say that he was happy being the only prince in his kingdom, where the world can revolve around him.