My mother never had the chance to tell my father she was pregnant because he always managed to find out before her. At the first hint that she might be carrying, my dad, a doctor, would draw her blood and a few hours later, it was he who would make the phone call and inform her: “Guess what, honey! You’re pregnant!”
About a year after my oldest brother Aaron was born, my mother started feeling a familiar form of nausea. “Please – let it be the stomach flu!” she exclaimed to my father when she was sick for the second time that day. My father drew her blood, and it was official: My second brother, Adam, was well on his way.
This story has become a sort of legend in our family, mostly because it makes for a great way to taunt Adam (“Mom wanted you to be the stomach flu!”). Aaron was 21 months old when Adam was born and although he claims he doesn’t remember a thing, I’m sure giving up the role of only child was slightly traumatic. And when I came along, four years after Adam, my mom has stories about my brothers trying to crawl into my crib, fascinated with a baby girl in the house.
When an only child suddenly becomes the oldest of two (or three…or four), the transition might be a little bewildering. In this issue, Beijing parents who have recently introduced a new child into their family share their experiences and advice. Another article features five parents who discuss their unique ways of spending quality time with each child so that no one feels left out. And in the spirit of making connections, experts give tips on how to expedite peer friendships for your children. You never know when you’re going to meet the best friend of your life.
It’s easy to get lost in the hustle of daily life – running errands, making ends meet, making sure shoelaces are tied everyday and teeth brushed every night – but when we leave a place, it’s the relationships that we will remember. Expat parents often forget about their own social needs, but the expat community has many networks for adults to make professional and personal connections. And that’s what this issue is all about – making and maintaining connections – whether it’s at home, at school, or at your local hangout.
After all, what does it all matter if you have no one to share it with? When I was younger, I would have given anything to be granted the privilege of sitting by the window seat during road trips, rather than my assigned middle seat. But now, sharing my memories with my two older brothers isn’t so bad. Sometimes, it’s even nice – who else would truly understand the frustration of listening to the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack again and again on our annual road trips? And who else can I tease for actually singing along to it?
Jessica Pan, Managing Editor