The Occasional Only Child: How One Blended Family Copes with Summer


Uma is an only child again.

Her big brother and sister have gone to far away Augusta Ga. to spend the summer with their biological father, his wife and her children. Their family grows by two, while ours is reduced to its lowest common denominator; daddy, mommy and self.

The Uma is alone.

Unless you count the dog. Which we don’t. He isn’t our dog-child, and he isn’t her dog-brother. He is a valued member of our family – the first line of defense and bringer of fleas and unsolicited licks – but he can’t make up for her brother and sister.

The night the kids left she said, “I’m glad they went.” False bravado from a stoic child of four. Umas didn’t miss brothers and sisters. In fact, Umas are glad that her siblings can share time with their Daddy. How very mature of her.

Doc McStuffins, however, is cut from gentler cloth. The night they left she carried Doc with her. The tall one with the lab coat, who sings and issues diagnosis with her soothing little girl voice. It was a gift from her grandmother and honestly, it’s not her favorite. She would rather comb the hair on her Twilight Sparkle Equestria Girl than diagnos a deflated baloon.

But that night they grew closer. Uma carried her quietly as they packed their clothes.

Later she told me that Doc didn’t want her big brother and sister to go.

“What about you?” I asked.

“No. I want them to go.” She said. “Doc doesn’t. She wants them to stay.”

They hadn’t left the driveway before Uma told me that Doc missed them both, a lot.

She didn’t cry. In fact, she was a picture of composure. Doc McStuffins, however, was inconsolable. That’s what Uma said.

“She’s crying,” She sat her down on the couch and looked at her. “Stop crying. It’s okay.”

We don’t skype. We did, two years ago, soon after we moved to Atlanta. It was an emotional mess.  Her big brother cried. Uma cried. These weren’t just silent tears, that roll down your cheek; a scratchy throat and a catch in the voice.

She touched the screen and then sobbed inconsolably. Her brother had to walk out of screenshot he was crying so hard. It was supposed to be a weekly thing, but we couldn’t go through it again. It was too hard.

They come back soon, and things will be different. They always are, immediately after summer.  Her big sister will be even more independent.  And Uma, for all of her loveliness, is coming into her own as a willful, independent little girl. There are nightly clashes. She is no longer a stranger to time out.

If she is that way with us, I can only imagine how she will be with her big brother. In other words, It’s On.

It’s not like I didn’t see it coming. I’m someone’s brother, just like her. And we fought too, just like her big sister and brother fight. The sugar and spice phase couldn’t last forever. There is simply too much salt in our blood for that.
But at least they’ll be together. Because until then, Doc McStuffins is going to be a complete basket case. She hasn’t taken patients in weeks.