In a closed homeschooling group discussion, a parent asked those of us who grew up without siblings what made being an only child less lonely (outside of play dates, park days, and time interacting with parents).
I grew up an only child, though I now have two half-sisters 24+ years younger, and though I wasn’t homeschooled except for ten months in my early teens, I managed to entertain myself. My grandmother essentially taught me what the song “Flagpole Sitta” states, “if you’re bored, then you’re boring.” She believed that as long as I had my brain and its imagination, I could keep from being bored without spending the whole of my summers, weekends, and holidays staring at a t.v. screen (although I did plenty of that, too). My mother was often ill with migraines, and so much of my childhood involved being left to my own devices. Here’s what I shared with the group:
I was highly imaginative and left to my own devices much of the time. I’d write stories, create dramas for my dolls, find surfaces around the house on which I could make crayon rubbings, danced, jumped on the small trampoline, built forts with pillows inside the house and twigs and leaf litter outside, watched for birds, hunted cats and lizards, played dress up, assembled jigsaw puzzles, watched stand up comedy and came up with my own jokes, wrote skits and performed them for the family, stole my grandmother’s pastels from Paris to make illicit drawings while she napped, went camping in the living room, designed my own blended drinks for everyone to sample, conducted kitchen experiments (some of the edible), whittled (until I sliced my finger and lost the taste for it), learned how to make different braids and knots, read through all of my mother’s medical books and art books, read anything within my reach, “walked” across the floor using only my glutteous muscles, stretched, jumped rope, learned astrology and palmistry, pretended to walk a tight rope, practiced basketball shots, practiced soccer kicks, made different paper airplane designs, drew blueprints for my dream house, learned how to juggle, drew treasure maps on imaginary islands and aged the paper . . . and all without supervision or a playmate.
And all of this I did before homeschooling, before the age of ten, and with an overprotective mother. One blog I love to read because it reminds me of the magic in my own childhood is Magical Childhood. The author often provides lists of ten ways to make the day magical, and all of them are fun, some of them can be done by a child or children alone.
What did you do as a kid when left to yourself? If you were an only child, did you discover a lot about yourself? Were you lonely? If you had close-aged siblings, did you find it hard to get time to yourself?