If there's one thing Millennials universally love, it's the '90s. But alhough I am filled with nostalgia for what is (in my humble opinion) the best decade ever, I have to admit: There were some real struggles of being an only child in the '90s. If you have siblings, you're probably wondering what I'm going on about: Couldn't us only children watch Full House and load up on Ring Pops like everybody else? Certainly! But here's the thing... We pretty much did the same thing, just, you know, alone, unless we were lucky enough for our friends to be available right at that very moment. Bummer, right?
Admittedly, being an only child is a pretty rare thing in and of itself. Historically, it was the norm to favor large families, with reasons ranging from wanting more children to work at the family business or because the risk of fatality in childhood was so high. At other points in history, large families have become the norm because of cultural and religious reasons; for example, some religions place an emphasis on not using contraceptives during intercourse, or openly encourage people to strive for large families.
So, how many only children are there in the United States? There are roughly 14 million only children in America according to the U.S. Census, which is actually a huge increase; formerly, only children comprised only 10 percent of all children in the United States; this increase to 14 million actually doubles the previous average. So to my fellow only children: Hello! You are not alone! (Though really, you kind of are, but it's OK, I get it). So for my fellow only children — and anyone else who is curious — take a trip back down the slightly darker side of memory lane with me on the struggles of being an only child in the '90s.
1. Getting Really Scared Watching Are You Afraid Of The Dark? Alone
I can't even pretend otherwise: Watching this show regularly gave me nightmares, but of course I wasn't about to tell an adult that and have them turn off the TV! Having a sibling to scream with probably would have made the experience a little less scary overall.
2. Not Having Anyone To Practice Putting Your Tinkerbell Cosmetics On
Who didn't love toting around their kiddie makeup kit and practicing on their friends? I definitely did. The worst, however, was when no one could come over and I had to practice putting heinous shades of blush all over my face by myself. Way, way less fun.
3. Pretending To Be Every Spice Girl By Yourself
OK, so I originally got the idea to pretend to be part of the Spice Girls with my friends from school, but then I took it upon myself to hang out and do the same thing at home... alone. Do you have any idea how exhausting it is pretending to be multiple people from a pop band? This activity inevitably ended in a semi-existential meltdown.
4. Not Having Anyone To Grab Onto For Balance While Learning To Inline Skate
I don't even want to confess how many times I fell and cried my eyes out while "learning" to skate by myself before hobbling back to my house. Too. Many. Times.
5. Cooking All Of Your Easy Bake Oven Desserts For Nobody
Naturally, my mom and grandmother humored me and sometimes ate my tiny baked goods, but mostly they went unloved. Little me was pretty torn up about it at the time.
6. Having No One To Play Sports With
I'm not the best athlete (see above regarding my adventures in roller blading) but I still liked sports in theory. However, when no one else was allowed to come out and play, I was stuck — literally — kicking a ball against the side of my house. Fun, right?
7. Not Being Able To Blame Making A Huge Mess On Anybody Else
My household was all about accountability, even when I was a kid. This probably taught me some really good life lessons about responsibility and adulthood, but at the time, I wished I had a sibling just so I could blame them when I didn't pick up after myself.
8. Wishing You Had Siblings Like On Every '90s Sitcom
All of my favorite '90s sitcoms had people with a ton of kids in the family. Sure, sometimes they were step siblings, cousins, or a family friend that moved in temporarily, but I was envious of these fictional people not for being on TV, but because they had other kids around all the time.
9. Having To Stay Home If The Neighborhood Kids Weren't Out
As an only child, I learned how to occupy my time pretty well: I was always one to read a book, do an art project, or help prepare a meal without needing much attention. However, there were definitely times when I longed for a sibling who I could play outside with or go "out" with (which basically meant walking to the store to buy candy, but hey, it counts, right?) because I wasn't allowed to go out all by myself.
10. Playing M*A*S*H All By Yourself
Yeah, you remember all those games where you can choose each other's future houses and spouses and stuff? Not as fun when you're playing them alone. Trust me.
11. Having Baby-Sitter's Club-Inspired FOMO
Sure, reading is definitely a solitary activity, but there's something about reading a series of books about people hanging out, you know, with each other that gets weirdly depressing after a while. A lot of popular book series kids read in the '90s were this way: The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High, and others feature kids with multiple siblings (or at least, plenty of inexplicable live-in friends) that made only child me a little more lonesome. At least I was entertained, though.
Images: Nickelodeon; Giphy (11)