I’ve never been that type of only child who was always entitled and atrociously self-centered. But having moved around and always straddling multiple sub-cultures, I did grow up alone.
And so on Friday when I stopped being an only child at the age of 22, I experienced what I suppose many people who are older siblings feel upon the arrival of a younger sibling. Except usually at a much younger age.
Let me back up a minute and explain the circumstances a little. No, my parents didn’t have another child. Instead, my little cousin arrived in the United States on Friday to attend high school here. But unlike many international students who go to private high schools in the States, she’ll be living with my parents instead of boarding at school. And my parents, as her legal guardians here, have said that they are going to treat her as their own, no special treatments either way.
She’s my baby cousin, my only younger cousin. I guess we all have more affection for the little ones, but even so, there’s an innately primal instinct to become defensive when your territory has been invaded.
You see, beyond being an only child and often the new kid on the block, I also never grew up around my cousins. Besides the occasional visits or summer vacations, I have never really lived in the same home as them. (In this case I’ve met my little cousin three times before.) I did just fine sharing rooms and apartments in college, but something about sharing your home and parents changes the rules of the game. And this is also different than when one of my older cousins lived with us in Florida after he transferred to a college there. He was older, already an adult, and I was away at college for most of the time.
So even though I’m just home temporarily and she’s only been here for four days, it’s already been an interesting experience. I had to clear out closet space, I have to share my bathroom, and I can no longer play my music however loud I wanted during the day. I even have to share my bandwidth.
And while this may all seem incredibly materialistic, they are really just reflections of the key issue: I have to share my parents’ time and affections.
Little toddlers act out upon the arrival of a new sibling because they feel abandoned, no longer loved as much, replaced. I’m obviously old enough to realize that my parents are not abandoning me, so a cyber rant it is.
Seriously, though, I love my cousin and I’m glad she’s here.