real life

Only children: Spoilt. Lonely. Anti-social. Pu-lease.

Being an only child. SO many assumptions.





Why are you an only child? Were you lonely? Do you have some sort of congenital illness? Are you the consequence of a one-child policy? Are you Chinese?

Ah, the questions. The never-ending questions.

I don’t mind answering them, it the stereotypes that really bore me.

Spoilt. Lonely. Anti-social. Pu-lease.

That look that people give you when you say you are sans sibling, like they’ve just remembered where they left their keys in 1997. Annoyance and relief that they’ve ‘figured you out’. It all makes sense! They’re maladjusted. Phew.

I have a friend who has created a fictional brother who is ‘overseas studying*’ to avoid the stigma of being an only. Extreme? Yes but it works.

(*He’s studying biochemical engineering and he will be away for a LONG time)

I didn’t often long for brothers and sisters, I longed for the life everyone thought I was leading. Over-attentive parents, rooms overflowing with toys, a happy little family unit.  We moved a lot. I went to 16 schools by the time I was 11… I made friends quickly and lost them ever quicker. I learned to adapt.

I had an eventful childhood (great for stand up comedy) but it was no picnic. Would a brother or sister altered my path? In fashion and music… perhaps.

I didn’t have a sister to tell me that my green velveteen turn up hat (girlfriend style) with a flower in the middle was awful or to get hand me down clothes from.


Dad was always like, “What do you need MORE clothes for? You just got that tartan dress.”

To which I’d reply, “Dad that was a school uniform…and I’m growing. Nothing fits me, I look like the Hulk.”

What’s better – being an only child, or having THIS many brothers and sisters?

I didn’t have a brother to teach me what music was cool…my musical influences were all from my Dad.  At blue light discos I asked for Fleetwood Mac, Chris Rea and Sade… Smooth Operator.

Even the midlife crisis DJ, thought I was a loser.

In high school I picked boyfriends for their families.  Normal, no divorced, house full of kids families fascinated me.

It was like visiting Family Ties.

I couldn’t get enough of it. Sneaky, door open pashing sessions with the boyfriend was just currency… for a ticket into family Dreamworld.

I’d watch the brothers fight over the TV remote… something I’ve never had to do…

Mum makes dinner, everyone talks about their day… it was really weird.  At the end of the day, after the show was over, I liked going back to my house and recount my day to Dad.

I loved sitting in my room waiting for the Hot 30 countdown, where I’d tape songs off the radio and then tape me singing along to the songs that I’d tape of the radio. I loved ‘me’ time and I still do, just as much as socialising.

The perpetuation of the only child myth perplexes me. We, the kids, had nothing to participation in the decision-making process of making another baby, yet we the kids cop all the flak.

What does it matter if you have one kid or five? If you love that kid, guide them, give them every chance to succeed, then you’re doing your job.


Bu only children continue to cop a lot of shit; I mean Lindsay Lohan gets better press than us.

I’m watching girlfriends struggle with notion of a second child. Going through the motions of procreation to avoid the stigma.

“We’ll we can’t just have one…”

Go on, I dare you.

Go to any article written about only children and skip down to the comments. First stop generalisations, second stop judgment and it’s mostly women leaving the comments. The sisterhood…worst siblings ever.

Aleisha’s show, ‘One of a Kind’

I’m 32. I just got hitched. Hopefully one day we’ll have a JR he or me…or maybe even three but if it is one, then I’ll bloody give it my best shot and I’m be armed with comebacks to all of those stupid questions.

Why are you an only child?

My parents got divorced and never wanted to see each others genitals again…

Where you lonely?

Not really. I had books and cousins and TV.

Do you have some sort of congenital illness?

You need to reconsider your life choices.

Are you the consequence of a one-child policy? Are you Chinese?

No. But I was king hit in China town on mother’s day once, due to a case of mistaken identity, by a guy who thought I was a Chinese woman. Coincidence?


Aleisha McCormack (@leishamccormack) is a writer and stand up comedian. She is performing her new show ‘One of a Kind’ at the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Directed by Julia Zemiro (a fellow only) September 20-27th, Rehearsal Room, North Melbourne Town Hall, 7.45pm. Tickets can be bought at 

Are you an only child? What are some of the assumptions people make?