16 January 2014, by Tan Yi Lin
So. The Husband announced on 31 December last year that we were going to try for our 3rd child.
I’ve always harboured the idea of having 3 children. As for Dannie, he wanted to stop at 2 – until I begged forced convinced him to have a third.
People are often curious to know my reason for wanting to have one more child. “So that you can try for a boy?” is the most common guess.
No. I don’t have to have a son. Children are not MacDonald Happy Meal collectibles or Panini sticker collections where you have to obtain a complete set. I would not mind at all if we had 3 daughters. Plus, there are practical considerations like all that money I’d save from being able to re-use Coco and Claire’s clothes and girly accessories.
It’s no secret that Dan, on the other hand, would love to have a son. He loves his little Cho Colette & Claire wholeheartedly, no doubt, but it would be nice if he could have a son to fight zombies with on his Playstation or talk Marvel Avengers with. Sure, daughters could make for good gamer girls, but seeing how Coco turned on her heels and ran out of the room squealing “NOOOO! I don’t want to see!” with both hands over her eyes at the sight of my brother setting a zombie on fire, I don’t think she’d be too keen on joining her father in blasting heads off the Undead. Claire, though, shows potential – she’s got a good grip on Iron Man and literally drools over him.
Whether our third child turns out to be a boy or a girl, one thing is certain: he / she will be dearly loved by all of us, including his / her 2 older sisters.
I would love to have 3 kids simply because it’s all that I’ve ever known. I grew up with 2 siblings and life, to me, would seem strangely emptier if I didn’t have either my sister or my brother. So I want the same for my children.
Of course, people who grew up as 1 of 2 children, or as an only child, could argue that they were not in want of more siblings and that their childhood was equally fulfilling. Can’t argue with that – it’s simply a matter of perspective, which in turn is shaped by what you’re used to knowing or having.
One possible reason why I think that having a larger household offers for richer family relationships is the complexity resulting from the layering of these relationships. In ‘The Sibling Effect: What The Bonds Among Brothers And Sisters Reveal About Us’, Jeffery Kluger enlightened me to the existence of dyads (along with other interesting extrapolations about birth order, twins and genetic encoding of behavioural traits. Go read it!)
He explains: Every individual in the family has a separate, one-on-one relationship with every other individual, each of those relationships representing a discrete, stand-alone pairing. All families are made of many such pairs – or dyads. Each pairing has its own strengths, intimacies and challenges. So your relationship with any other family member is different from your siblings’s relationship with the same member, making each family a series of micro environments.
There’s even a formula for arriving at the number of dyads within family:
k(k-1)/2 = x
where k = no. of family members; x = no. of dyads
So a family of 2 parents and 2 children would have 6 dyads, which would increase to 10 dyads if we have one more child. If we include my parents and siblings into the equation, there would be 36 dyads operating in this household at present – and 45 when no.3 (or my brother’s future wife – whichever is earlier) joins us.
More kids = more dyads = more fights. That’s for sure. Some skirmishes will be easily forgotten; others less so. But, to adult brains, memories of childish squabbles are more sentimental than vindictive. When I was 16 and my brother 8, I furiously called him a bi*ch for shoving a fistful of snow down my back while we were on holiday. 18 years on, he still remembers how I lashed out at him with a “bad word” but the thought of it now is more funny than bitter.
To say that siblings will always be there for one another is romanticising things a bit. The relationship between siblings is like the tide – subject to the pull of the moon, and in the case of sibling relationships, the pull of life outside of the family home. Amongst my siblings and I, we each took / are taking what the book calls a “sibling moratorium” sometime during our mid-20s. This happens when each sibling tries to establish where he or she is going “in terms of work, education, finding romance and starting a family. The sibling relationship must recede for a while, because they are working on these issues. Brothers and sisters will all become influential again in one another’s lives but not until later, when they move past that age”. I’ve been through it. My sister’s been through it. And now, it’s my brother’s turn to disappear for a good part of the day – and night – and appear for a few hours only on the weekend. The book describes this as the “hourglass effect – a stage at which sibling closeness and interaction contracts to a narrow choke point, and expands again when the brothers and sisters are all set and settled… Matching lives – not to mention often-matching schedules – will typically draw them closer again”.
To go through all the ideas expounded in ‘The Sibling Effect’ would take many more blog entries. So I’ve extracted the key supporting evidence of the advantages of having siblings to make a case for Kenobi (yes, Dan’s STILL hoping for a child to name Cho Bi Wan Kenobi) the Third.
- Siblings teach you about human relationships in general. Conflicts with siblings give you growth experience you wouldn’t have outside the family. You get to push limits further than you usually would with other relationships.
- Siblings are like our memory banks: You march the long march together from birth to death; you experience the same things – even if not always in the same ways.
- Adult siblings who remain involved in one another’s lives generally see their continued relationship as a desirable and rewarding thing – and continue to be deeply connected.
- When siblings have their own offspring, the more involved siblings are with one another’s kids, the closer the sibs themselves will remain – and the closer the extended family as a whole will be as well.
- When it comes to ageing, not only can siblings help to share the burden of tending to ageing parents, when brothers and sisters themselves start ageing, reconnecting with siblings can enhance longevity through sharing our lives – and even our homes – particularly with someone, or some people, who know us deeply and well. A sibling is a natural source of companionship, help and support all rolled into one.
Kluger likens siblings to our permanent traveling companions with whom we road-test life before we take the wheels of our own futures – and successfully too. It is our relationships with our brothers and sisters that deserve some of the credit for setting us on that path – and keeping us travelling safely. This, is what I hope for for my children.
We are really looking forward to trying for little Kenobi No.3. I have made an appointment for 7 Feb with Dr Sadhana at the KKH IVF Centre to see what assessments need to be conducted before we pen a date for our Frozen Embryo Transfer.
That’s just 3 weeks away.
Wish us luck.
“… it’s the shared early experiences, which cast a long shadow for all of us.
That shadow, like all shadows, is a thing created by light. And siblings – old or young, living nearby or far away – shine a very bright one.”
– Jeffrey Kluger, The Sibling Effect