The “Only Child” Syndrome

By Julia Pearl-Schwartz

As school begins, so do our typical routines: staying up late to finish homework, groggily walking to first period and having awkward encounters in the hallway, etc. But, for me, there is one major difference: this year both of my brothers are at college, leaving me as an “only child.”

Like many others with siblings who recently left for college, it’s been difficult to adapt.

I have two brothers, one two years and the other four years my senior. For the past two years, my oldest brother has been at college, and the house was quiet when he was gone. But now that both siblings are at school, it feels eerily empty.

I’ve spent my entire life constantly fending off my athletic and intimidating brothers—for my own safety. Each time I turned a corner, at least one of them greeted me with a kick to the stomach. They picked me up, flipped me upside down, and threw me around so often that, despite my protests, I was nicknamed “the toy.”

I’m still not used to the fact that I’m the only teenager in my house. It’s unsettling to come home in the afternoon and not have my brothers heckle me for some of my snack.

It’s unsettling to walk through the hallways at school, and not be slammed into a locker.

It’s unsettling to text and talk on the phone with my brothers, instead of speaking in person.

But as I continue to feel unsettled at home, and they start to feel settled in their dorms, I still know I can be grateful for our entertaining relationships while they were still home.

While my brothers can be immensely irritating, I really have grown to cherish our banter. I dreaded their departure because their presence adds laughter and merriment to the house.

Despite the eery stillness, I’m starting to appreciate having the house to myself.

There’s no longer a paucity of food, as my brothers aren’t home to devour an entire pot of pasta—each.

I’ve claimed their bathroom as my own, and the house is cleaner.

Becoming an “only child” has also forced me to become closer with my parents. I’ve become the center of my parents’ attention, and while this would aggravate some teens, I enjoy it—at least for now.

Without three kids to worry about, my parents are more available to assuage the stresses of junior year. Even the small favors have been incredibly helpful.

While adjusting to such a drastic change has been challenging, my only logical choice is to enjoy the peace until all hell breaks loose again over Thanksgiving. Until then, I can revel in the company of my new favorite sibling: my dog.