Only Child

full_moon_2014

Only child, all by yourself,
Who will teach you to share?
Only child, all by yourself,
How will you learn to care?

No sibling in sight to share with or fight,
No one to compete with, it’s true.
No closet to plunder, no sister or brother,
No one but your parents and you.

Imaginary games played by just one.
Imaginary friends who listen
And speak what you want, when you want them to talk,
Then depart with nary a squeak.

Before you know it, school begins
And then you will see, I fear,
The grappling and clawing, commotion and jawing
Of others you won’t want too near.

Only child, all by yourself,
Who will teach you to share?
Only child, all by yourself,
How will you learn to care?

Watching and listening are strengths that I have,
Don’t fret over me, mother and dad.
“Only” doesn’t mean lonely, you know,
And who misses what he’s never had?

I’ve chosen my pals with knowledge and care,
They like me in spite of my flaws.
They know when to talk and refuse to balk
If I’m grumpy or down with the blahs.

I’ve courted kindness, rightness, and humor
To bring people into my sphere.
I’m comfy alone and can hold my own
Whether folks are away or right here.

‘Tis better by far to have peace when alone
Than discord with a sibling, you see.
Anger, bitterness, silence, and hate
Are nothing I want around me.

Only child, all by yourself,
Of course you are learning to share!
Only child, all by yourself,
Your heart teaches you to care.

NOTE: This, according to my research, is written in Ballad Metre, a variation of Common Measure. Four lines alternate between iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter in the rhyming pattern of a-b-c-b. If any of you experts know otherwise, please educate me!

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25 thoughts on “Only Child

  1. Debbie, this piece was WONDERFUL! And I just want you to know that I read it twice! You truly have such a special gift for writing.

    I think my two favorite parts are these…

    “Watching and listening are strengths that I have,
    Don’t fret over me, mother and dad.
    “Only” doesn’t mean lonely, you know,
    And who misses what he’s never had?”

    That is so true! I don’t think that an only child means they’re lonely. Nor does it mean that they don’t know how to share.

    “Only child, all by yourself,
    Of course you are learning to share!
    Only child, all by yourself,
    Your heart teaches you to care.”

    Amen!

    Again, wonderful piece, my friend! Have a great week!
    X

    • Ron, can you see me blushing from this far away? Your words, my friend, are music to my ears — thank you!

      I guess we parents of only kids are good in the worrying department, when we really should just relax and trust the process. I’m blessed to have Domer!

      I’m honored you read this one twice — thanks for telling me, and have a super week!

    • Aw, gee, Katybeth, thank you! All my life, I’ve been surrounded with friends who are onlies, and they’ve been well-adjusted, happy people (much the way Domer is). As a parent, I’d rather do a GOOD job with the one I’ve been given than do a sorry job with a full dozen (not that it can’t be done, ha!)

    • Thanks, Monica. I hope your cousin will enjoy it! Domer, bless his heart, doesn’t usually weigh in on my posts. Sigh, a writer is a failure in her own home, I guess!!

  2. The Professor stole my words! The form is very interesting to me and you’ve captured the essence of an only child. I like how it switches perspectives. The first “I” seems like it’s parental; the second “I” the child’s . . .

    • The Professor is a thief??! Probably! A warrior-thief wielding a katana! Thanks so much for your words of praise — I’m glad it came across where the perspective changed from that of the parent to the child. That’s what I was going for! As for the form itself, like I told the Professor, I wasn’t even aware this thing had a named form (see how well I paid attention in English Lit classes?!). When I got to the end, I decided to Google poetry and that’s where I found Ballad Metre. Who knew I was actually writing a song?!?

    • Lovely thoughts, Barb, and I thank you! Domer and I are both blessed. Kids don’t come with instruction manuals, as you well know, so whenever we do something right in their rearing, well, I guess it’s pretty miraculous!

  3. It’s great how you captured some of the stages I went through as an only child. At first, I didn’t know any different, and I was perfectly content. I didn’t start thinking, “Oh, I wish I had brothers and sisters” until I got much, much older.” And then, when I was the only one caring for mom, I really felt it — until my friends with siblings, in the same situation, said, “Oh, gosh. You can just do what has to be done without squabbling with sibs who think you’re a stupid jerk!” So there’s that.

    I do think onlies tend to imagine all big families as happy families, but t’ain’t necessarily so. On the other hand, I think many of my friends imagine life without brothers and sisters as unbearably lonely, but that’s not true, either.

    I haven’t a clue about the meter and such. I just write. I don’t analyze! LOL!

    • I’m glad to hear it rang true for you, Linda. Having lots of friends who are onlies, I understand some of the difficulties, especially for those caring for an aging parent; however, care by committee never seems to work, and typically, even if there are lots of siblings, the burden often falls on the shoulders of just one.

      TV seems to portray big families as happy ones, when we know that’s not always the case. I imagine squawking and jealousies go on there, too. I’ve always known that it’s possible to feel lonely in the midst of a crowd, yet perfectly at peace by myself.

      As to the meter, this just came out that way. Early training in music has left me with a constant song playing through my head, or a series of rhythms. After I got done, I wondered if there was a name for the form I’d written it under, Googled it, and found my answer. Who knew??!

  4. A wonderful message here Debbie with a great structure too. I am not an only child so you give me insights into how it would be to be one; I imagine that sharing would be a bit of a challenge at first :) I like this part in particular: “I’ve chosen my pals with knowledge and care, They like me in spite of my flaws.” Great words for any age as we choose who to let into our lives and when people accept us for who we are it’s an amazing feeling! Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart with us in the form of poetry <3

    • Thank YOU, Christy, for such lovely thoughts! I wasn’t an only child, but I had lots of friends who were onlies. I know their parents were concerned about integrating them into the world — perhaps that’s why kindergartens (and later, day care) sprang up?? I’m also the mom of an only and worked extra-hard at making sure he had contact with all sorts of people and exposure to all sorts of situations. Sharing isn’t a concept most little kids (and some big kids!) take to very easily, ha!

  5. This is a great poem. I like the ‘only doesn’t mean lonely’ – so true. It’s funny, because we were concerned about our son being an only child so were relieved when another was on the way. Years later, we see that he would’ve been perfectly content as an only child (though we still hold out hope that one day they might not want to kill each other, haha.)

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