.

Single-minded

High school is humiliating enough without a sister to help things along

There are two distinct camps of people who weigh in on my decision to have just one child:

Those who believe in order for a child to avoid being maladjusted and self-centered, they should not be the complete focus of their parents' attention and the sole beneficiary of their parents' time and resources …

… and those who have older siblings.

I'm not at all surprised to read a recent article that claims only children are not at a disadvantage in life as was previously thought, and, in fact, may have an advantage. According to this article, most children who have low self-esteem do so because of the treatment they receive from older siblings.

The article also indicates that only children share many of the same traits oldest children do—intelligence and leadership qualities notable among them. Youngest siblings, like me, generally rebel against authority and don't do as well academically. 

To which I say, "Well, duh."

It is no accident that after the years of methodically planned, often public psychological torture I was subjected to by my older sibling, I opted to stop at one child. Because my sister was the intelligent, oldest child, she knew precisely how to mortify me in a way that prevented me from protesting or denying any of it because it only made the humiliating situations into which she placed me—her painfully shy younger sister—even worse. 

Lest you think I am overstating, I will share some examples:

There was the time that, posing as me, she phoned a local radio station and dedicated a treacly love song and my love to the captain of the high school football team. Because it was so heartfelt, no one in my high school, including said football captain, believed it was not I who had done this.

Then there was the incident when she used her position as editor of the high school yearbook to alter my listing of activities to include things such as "ventriloquism team" and "milk allergy discussion group."

But perhaps the best example is when I had my first real boyfriend my junior year of high school. He was good looking, on his school's swim team and received close to a perfect score on the SATs. In short, there was no good reason for him to like me, his one character flaw being, I suppose, that he did. He earned parental approval, helped me with my homework and called when he said he would—including one night when my sister answered the phone. He asked if I was there, and she responded politely, "Yes, she is. But she cannot come to the phone right now because she is having a bowel movement."

So challenge my decision to have one child, if you will. I remain confident in knowing she'll thank me when her future beaus remain blissfully unaware of her digestive schedule.

lisa miller October 13, 2010 at 07:52 PM
If it weren't for your big sister, you wouldn't be the person you are today. She helped you build character, develop coping skills and a wonderful sense of humor which has served you well. You should thank her! (What? Why yes, yes I do have a younger brother. What's your point?)
L A Cochran October 13, 2010 at 08:06 PM
"milk allergy discussion group." LOL! I have an older sister who took it as her reason for living to make my life hell.
Kathleen Canedo October 13, 2010 at 08:33 PM
I trust he has a good therapist he can recommend? Thanks.
Kathleen Canedo October 13, 2010 at 08:36 PM
L A - Interesting that they do this. Because adolesence is challenging enough without the extra help.
hillary berman October 14, 2010 at 01:59 PM
While clearly I'm on your side, as an older sib, I can't help but applaud her creativity. Pretty Greff-like behavior, actually. Check out Deborah Tannen's new book.
Bradford October 14, 2010 at 03:45 PM
As the oldest of nine brothers, half-brothers, and step-brothers, I also fail to see your point (other than the fact that I am the most intelligent, well-adjusted, leader of the pack). It's a HOLY CALLING to abuse younger siblings, it's part of the job description. Which is why I'm doing a huge favor to future children by not having more than one child myself.
Sarah March 14, 2012 at 05:48 PM
I feel bad that you had to endure such a horrible (and hilarious) sister, but GOD she's funny. "She's having a bowel movement." I am DYING! Ventriloquist TEAM. Not even Ventriloquist club. That is such a good one it almost brought a tear to my eye. Do you, in fact, have a milk allergy?

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