Jesterly Challenge Month – November 19th

Today’s challenge came in via the book of faces from the one and only Heidi VelvetShock, aka The Purple Lady, aka my Auntie DeNyse.  She wanted me to opine on the Only Child Syndrome.  I did some research and have written the following essay based on her request.  Let me know how you think I did in the comments.


Stereotypes are an interesting phenomenon.  Once they are established they are nearly impossible to get away from, and while they can be created very quickly, those that can eventually be overturned, take years to undo.

In the case of children without siblings, a single study (not well constructed or analyzed) led G. Stanley Hall, a renowned child expert in the late 19th century, to proclaim it a disease: Only Child Syndrome.  These children are often labelled as selfish, are perceived to have difficulty making friends, and are deemed much more difficult to raise.

This is an interesting outcome of the study, considering its only true conclusion was that teachers were more likely to label these kids as “peculiar” and “exceptional,” and more often than not these kids performed very well academically and would do everything they could to please their parents.  Yet, the negative connotations of the stereotype persisted.

In a historical context, families with only one child are extremely rare.  Average family sizes have been shrinking recently (though, there is some debate on whether it can be counted as a trend or just a temporary statistical anomaly), and more research has concluded that the “spoiled brat” stereotype for only children is a fallacy.  Despite the increased prevalence of only children in our societies and the scientific studies that have concluded there is “no evidence of any greater prevalence of maladjustment,” the stereotypes persist.

Interestingly enough, in the cases where the stereotypes hold true, it is likely a result of misinformation and societal pressure.  If a child is told he is spoiled over and over again, they are likely to begin to believe that.  Or, if parents are told that they are spoiling their child, they are likely to change their behavior to ensure they aren’t.  These are not new problems.  These are issues that only children and their parents are fully aware of do their best to combat.  But, they can’t do it alone.  A quick search on the internet or perusal of library shelves shows the prominence of the discussion around this topic.  However, the stereotypes persist.

So, how we do fight these unfair stereotypes?

It starts with those of us on the periphery.  We have to stop ourselves from spreading rumors, conjecture, and untruths.  We have to help unravel these stereotypes so, over time, they will be forgotten in future generations.

It would also be wise to question all stereotypes your encounter in your daily lives.  When were they started?  Why?  How?  Is there any truth to them?  Strip away all your preconceived notions and view the world with open eyes.

A Lesson in Regret

Another anonymous story has been shared on Stories That Must Not Die. Head over and leave some messages of support.

Stories that Must Not Die

The following post is anonymous.

Only a few people know this story and I don’t want my siblings to see it, so I’m posting anonymously. I’ve needed to post it, oh, about 20 years. I can’t believe that much time has passed since my father died.

For many years, my dad was my best friend. He told me he loved me, hugged me, and made me feel special. He was also narcissistic, inappropriate, and manipulative. I suspect he was a womanizer but I don’t have any hard proof. When I was young, maybe 6 years old, he abandoned us. But then he came back and my mom abandoned us – for good. He was the single parent of five children by the time he was 38. He gave up a lot to care for us, but he also put his own interests first – pursuing a career that resulted…

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the schizophrenic in my room

My mom met me at the door between the garage and kitchen.  She’d been waiting to hear me get home so she could give me some sort of warning of what I was about to face.  The strain of the early afternoon she had already lived through was evident in her features.  She quickly explained the situation to me, and when we had gathered our bravery, our mental strength, we went inside.

He had isolated himself, for the moment, in my room.  It was at the end of the hall, as far from the living spaces of the house as he could get while still being in the house.  I remember thinking it was odd that he thought this was a safe place for him to come, a home he had only been to a handful of times over the years, but he still didn’t trust us enough to be around us.

I sat at the kitchen table and started going through my homework.  I didn’t have anything that needed immediate attention, but I needed to do something to keep myself occupied.  The sound of commotion coming from the end of the hall pulled me away from the table and down towards my room, compelled to protect my home even as I was terrified of what might happen if I invaded his privacy.

A new wave of paranoia had gripped him and he couldn’t understand why my bedroom didn’t have a door.  In his panic he had begun to fortify the doorway with anything and everything he could from my room.  Somehow, I convinced him that he was safe and rather than tearing apart my room I could bring him a cardboard box from the garage and we would create a door.  That calmed him down.  For a time.

The rest of the afternoon has been reduced to a series of snapshots in my mind, where I can picture a specific moment but nothing that led to it or followed.  There were moments where I feared for him, my mom and myself.  There were moments of lucidness where he seemed normal, like the family friend my brother had gone through scouts with.

Eventually his parents came and convinced him that he’d be okay if he went home with them.  I remember wondering what had taken them so long.  I remember sighing with relief when he was out of the house.  I remember trying to understand what had happened to him and not being able to.

Over the years the images of that afternoon have faded in my head.  If I had written this story the following day, month, year, I could have filled multiple posts with the sights, sounds, and thoughts from those few hours.  However, I will never forget the look on my mom’s face when I got home, and the relief I felt after his parents had taken him away.

I didn’t judge him, but I did fear him.

Update: I won a top row award (I was one of the five favorite posts) for this one! Thanks to all who voted for me.

Cloud Nine

Speechless.  Astounded.  Surprised.  Elated.  I was nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger award by this wonderful blogger (and you should really check out what they’ve got going on because it truly is inspiring) and I find myself on cloud nine.  I didn’t really know where I was going with this blog when I put it together and three months in (to the day) I still don’t have a clear direction for it other than a random collection of my musings, rants, reviews, and other such nonsense.

But, I do love to write.  To create images and humor and mystery and silliness with my words and to think that any of those creations has been inspiring to my readers is, well, inspiring in itself.  So, thank you!

Here is the award:

Very Inspiring Blogger Award Rules

1.Display the award logo on your blog.
2.Link back to the person who nominated you.
3.State 7 things about yourself.
4.Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
5.Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.


1. Done.

2.  Done.  But, for good measure, you really should go read Dear Ms. Migraine.  Okay, now it’s been done twice.

3.1  I love soccer/football/futbol.  I started playing it when I was five and played through High School.  In college I found the Premier League and began following Manchester United (glory, glory) and shortly after that I started following the Los Angeles Galaxy as well.  I’m a fan… in the true sense of the word (fanatic).  Hence the random game reviews that pop up on my blog from time to time.

3.2  I graduated from college with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Sociology and then promptly went to work in the mortgage industry.  Not sure how that happened, but there it is.  I’ve had two stents being unemployed, 6 bosses, 6 jobs, and 5 different employers in the last 9 years.  My industry seems to be a bit unstable.  But, maybe that’s just me.

3.3  My wife I and got married in Mammoth.  Our ceremony was on the sun deck at McCoy station and we took some pictures up at the top… on 18 feet of snow… in April.  (The picture at the top of my blog is from our wedding.)  *Prepare for a bit of sappyness.*  That day is one of the very top highlights of my life.

3.4  We adopted two kittens 3 years ago: Sara and Belle.  I’ve had it my mind to add pictures of them being silly or cute to my blog but they haven’t been all that cooperative with the process of getting their photographs taken.  Eventually their cuteness and goofyness will grace this blog.  (Probably will be an improvement.)

3.5  More summers than not, I go on a backpacking trip in the Sierra with my dad and brother.  The most recent trip inspired a couple posts on this blog already: the road less travelled and the fifth day.  Eventually I’m sure I will touch on some of my previous trips as I either think of reasons why they are relevant to bring up or I can’t think of anything better to blog about.

3.6  Despite all my posts to the contrary, all my assertions that I’m a cynic and a pessimist and everything else of that nature, I’m really an optimist.  But, shhh, that’s our little secret.  I wouldn’t want that to become common knowledge.  Oh wait, oops.

3.7  I’m about to embark on one of the greatest adventures of my life.  My wife and I are expecting.  Soon this blog will be filled with my normal randomness, some kittie craziness (probably) and the wild stories of me learning to be a father; that is, of course, assuming I have the strength, energy, and mental fortitude to put my thoughts together once the kiddo shows up.


5.  Done.  (Well, not yet, but they should find out from the pingbacks from posting links to their sites above and I will post messages on their sites letting them know about the award too eventually.)  You’re just going to have to take my word for it.