Every so often I bump into other people that have an outrageous amount of siblings like me. Instantly you have a mutual understanding that your upbringing wouldn’t exactly be described as mainstream, and that your day to day life was far more raucous than most people’s. Silence is something unheard of, as is a long bath or having any time to yourself. In order to give you a small insight into what it is like to have so many siblings, I asked mine (via our family Facebook page, obvs) to help me finish the sentence: “You know you have ten siblings when”…and they didn’t disappoint.
Before you read this list I would just like to express that all eleven of us are still alive and well. Yes, our Mum could definitely be described as nuts, (and not just because of her eccentric dance moves). I mean, you would have to be slightly mad to consider giving birth to eleven children!
On what other’s think:
- You tell someone you are one of 11 and their response is often: “Same parents?”…followed by an awkward silence.
- People ask you are Catholic when they find out how many siblings you have.
- People give you evil looks for thinking you’re a teenage Mum.
- You tell someone you’ve got ten siblings and they instantly ask: “How big is your house?”
- “Are you on holiday with your friends?” Er no.
- Your friends think being in your house is the best thing ever and call it, ‘The Party House!’
- When a friend tells your house has a smell: “I know what it is…it smells of dirty nappies”. Thanks.
- The checkout lady asks you if you’re having a party, every time you do the weekly shop for your Mum.
- When you’ve been asked more times than you can count: “Don’t your parents have a TV?” Original.
On the parents:
- Your Mum is an expert in rustling up a feast from an empty fridge.
- Your Dad offers a £5 reward to whoever can find the TV remote.
- You are sat at church and your mum realises there is one of you left at home.
- You are addressed by five different names before your own.
- Your Mum says you can’t have piano lessons because she can’t face seeing the piano teacher five days a week.
- You arrive home and all your shoes are thrown out on the driveway because your Dad is sick and tired of nobody putting them in the cupboard.
- You want something from Mum and Dad, so you get together to plan the different roles each of you is going to take. A real life conspiracy.
- It’ acceptable to say: “Mum, please don’t get pregnant”, before your parents go on holiday.
- Your Dad pays you to call your Nanna to tell her your Mum is pregnant – again. She only wanted two grandchildren.
- Your Mum has made a surprise dessert and excitedly says: “Guess what?” and one of us shouts: “You’re pregnant”…it was true.
On living arrangements:
- You shared a room up until you left home.
- All eleven of you have never lived together.
- One child wakes up crying and they set off several others.
- The conservatory is your bedroom whilst doing your A Levels.
- Your brother’s permanent sleeping place is your wardrobe.
- Your bedroom is the landing – which you share with your sister.
- As a teenager you shared a room with a newborn baby.
- You’re 19 and still wake up to the sound of Fireman Sam blasting out downstairs.
- After one minute in the bathroom, somebody is already knocking on the door telling you to get out.
- You are late to school nearly every day, and never give an excuse. You have a mutual understanding with the teacher and they don’t even ask. They probably wouldn’t believe you anyway.
- You’re asked to write about each family member in German class and you instantly asked the teacher to give you a handicap.
- It’s your turn in French class to say how many brothers and sisters you have, and the teacher’s eyes nearly pop out.
- During maths at school the number of siblings you have is classed as an ‘anomaly’, so that the data isn’t skewed.
- On your way home from town with four packs of nappies, some girls from your school start asking you a bunch of questions.
- You need to pluck up the courage to tell your Sixth Form friends your mum is pregnant, because she’s starting to show.
- Being the last one to be picked up from school becomes the norm and you are not bothered by it at all.
- A fussy eater is something you came across in adulthood. If there was food on the table, you just ate it. What do you mean you don’t like broad beans or sprouts?
- You have to hide anything edible on top of your bedroom wardrobe.
- You are willing to protect your birthday chocolate with your life.
- You want some butter on your toast, but have to remove baked beans, toast crumbs and tuna before you can actually use it.
- Looking for naughty food in the kitchen turns into a bit of a competition…then when you find it, you pretend you haven’t and slyly walk away.
- You egg each other on to open the biscuit packet…because you don’t want to be the one guilty of opening it.
- You decide to share a packet of biscuits or sweets…you only get one so it’s utterly pointless.
- You hide the good cereals above the kitchen cupboards within 1 second of Mum bringing the shopping home.
- A bag of chocolate bars turns into a massive argument. Usually the bag gets ripped and it’s a mad rummage.
On each other:
- There is a choice of who to blame your misdoings on.
- Your younger sibling may just call you Mum.
- You have a whole host of made up words that make absolute sense to all of you.
- You collect all your tat and try to sell it to each other. We’ve even tried selling toilet roll to each other…Er, I think I’ll just get some from the bathroom.
- You can’t have a pet because your sister thinks she is a dog.
- You still believe Father Christmas when you’re 13. Your older siblings kept the dream alive longer than is generally acceptable.
- You know how to play a game called: ‘Tigers in the Dark’, know what ‘HSBC’ really stands for, and regularly held a ‘Royal Rumble’ on a Sunday afternoon.
- You sell white bread from the top of your wardrobe for 10p a slice.
- You sell games to your younger siblings and sell them for more than you bought them for.
- You successfully sell your siblings own belongings to them.
- On Christmas Eve you all sit and wrap each other’s presents.
On day to day life:
- Walking home from the train station in the rain is a regular occurrence.
- You return home from school and there are huge towers of washing waiting to be put away.
- It feels strange sitting by yourself on a sofa so you go and sit next to another person.
- You wait for two hours for your turn on a computer game – your go lasts for three minutes and you definitely thought it was worth it.
- You are asked to carry out a simple task and decide to ask someone else in the family to do it…then it gets passed back to you half an hour later.
- Mum tells you off for not looking after your things, then years later your brother owns up to chucking your toys out of the window.
- You think the shower is meant to have a pool of water at the bottom, because the plug is always blocked.
- You started doing your own washing at 13.
- You have no idea which on is your toothbrush. So you end up using a different one every night.
- It is finally your turn to use the computer and you’ve forgotten what you needed it for.
- Your dinner table has a lazy Susan so that you don’t have to keep asking people to pass you things.
- Bathing with four other siblings is usual.
- You walk into your brother’s bedroom and he BB guns your backside as a welcome gesture.
- There are six girls in the house, but no hairbrush.
- You have the ability to participate in at least three different discussions at the same time whilst eating your dinner.
- Your sisters dress you up as Cinderella at the age of 13.
- Your oldest brother is old enough to be your Dad.
- You can make anything into a competition.
- Four of your siblings attend the same school as you.
- Even your glasses were hand me downs. They were bright pink, huge and embarrassing.
- You watch ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’ and it all makes perfect sense.
- You can create an 11 a-side or 5 a-side football match by just turning up.
- There are (at least) five other people with your shoe size.
- You enter the pool on holiday and then within 10 minutes everybody else has left.
- At 17, you’ve excitedly passed your driving test and your first ‘car’ is a rusty white Ford Transit nine seater bus.
- There are over 100 yoghurts in the fridge (yes, actually).
- The house gets so untidy the only solution is a timed military style tidy up session.
- The weekly toilet roll usage requires the felling of a small rainforest.
- You never owned a new piece of clothing until you could afford to buy them for yourself.
- It’s ok to watch Teletubbies, Barney and other toddler TV programmes at the age of 16, and secretly love them.
- Somebody shouts: ”Pile on!”, and you’re unfortunate person at the bottom, hoping your life isn’t about to end.
- You didn’t own your own make up, hair straighteners or hair dryer until you left home.
- You just pack underwear when visiting from Uni. Everything else can be borrowed or stolen.
- Silence makes you feel uneasy.
- When a Saturday night involves the TV, a peeler and a lot of vegetables.
- Your Grandma pairs the socks and cuts all your nails and it takes at least half a day!
- You have a Facebook family group with 18 members…just your parents, sibling and their other halves.
- You realise you’d be a millionaire if you’d charged for babysitting. Should have realised earlier.
- Dressing your brother up as a girl, including clip on earrings, nail varnish and lipstick is a regular Sunday afternoon activity.
- You go to a friend’s house for dinner and the silence is oppressive and the portions are minute.
These days most of us call Yorkshire our home. We still sit close to each other on the sofa and have far too many conversations going on across the dinner table (both of which my husband took a while to get used to), but we get on better than we ever have done. Just don’t text them all on the same day, it may just take you all evening to reply.
p.s. A huge thank you to all contributors!