When I was 10 years old, my two siblings and I were introduced to four people who would later become our family. As a kid, I didn’t realize that; I just knew that I got to hang out with people my age all the time and never had to ask Dad for permission to do so. Not taking into account the few times where we just couldn’t agree on something, all six of us kids seemed to get along pretty well.
Living together was a different story. We were six teens and preteens that were raised different ways and had different opinions and values. We had to start considering the feelings of people we hadn’t spent our entire lives living with. I was always the oldest, so I had to get used to having siblings that were suddenly my superiors because of their ages. On top of that, we all got pretty sick of having to share our stuff.
We are eight very distinct personalities, and we thought that getting along might just kill us.
Some of my most prominent memories include our family meetings with topics such as, "How do we get the kids to agree on what to have for dinner?" "How much PlayStation time should each kid be allotted before it’s someone else’s turn?" And "Why do all of the kids want to murder each other every time we leave them alone?" But it wasn’t all bad. In fact, I'd like to think that those were some of the times that brought us all closer together.
Other memories include cramming eight nearly full grown people into a truck to do Mad Libs for 10 hours to Florida, putting on “rock concerts” with fake instruments for the rest of the family, and trying to film our own TV show (scripts, costumes, and all). We always have enough people to play the good board games, our family outings look like a circus just marched in, and don’t even get me started on how badly restaurant hostesses freak out when we need a table for eight on a Friday night. It’s just how we grew up.
Now that we’re older, half of us have moved out, but during Easter or Christmas when we’re all home, we still get on each other’s last nerves—but we enjoy it. Growing up in a blended family wasn't easy, but it made us all patient, understanding adults. We’re good with change. We’re good with making do with however much or little we have. We’re good at compromise. We’re better people than we would have been without each other.
Whenever I meet an only child, I wonder how they did it because I couldn’t imagine what my childhood would have been like without my siblings. Even though they still make me want to pull my hair out sometimes, I love every one of them. I unknowingly strengthened my people skills every minute of my childhood, and if I can get along with my siblings then I can get along with just about anyone.
These four people that I never would have met on my own quickly went from strangers to family. We may still fight, but we all love each other as if we’ve been together our entire lives. So here’s a message to all of those parents with kids who fight or hate each other: It gets better. They’ll thank you one day. Just give them time to realize how much they really needed each other.