Closer than classmates, more sensational than siblings, cousins are a boon to growing up.
While I never lived in the same town with my own cousins, I remember how I loving family get-togethers. Even for cousins I saw rarely, our play would pick up right where it left off the last time we were together.
My older cousins were someone to look up to. My younger ones tickled me with their cuteness. We always managed to fill the hours with games and adventures that each of us could relate to.
When my kids came along, they were thrilled for every chance to get together with their cousins, too. I observed that, as they got older, their differences might have separated them if they had been students in the same school, but in Cousin World, they had enough in common to keep the conversation and laughter flowing.
So now I am in the lucky position of watching another generation of cousin escapades. These cousins include a bevy of preschoolers whose high-pitched squeals of joy punctuate their time together. Little provocation is needed for such an outburst, which announces the level of happiness they all feel from the simple fact of being together.
When they come to my house to be together, I need not plan any activities for them. Instead, I just have the raw materials available—a ball, some play dough, some baby dolls, some blocks, and a few sticks of sidewalk chalk.
When cousins are around, you won’t hear kids complain that there’s nothing to do. Instead, you can surround them with some safe limits, offer some toys and snacks, and get out of their way. The joy of being with their cousins provides the motivation, and the encounter propels the storyline of their time together.
The occasional dust-ups are quickly forgotten with no grudges left behind. Cousins know enough to not waste their time together with pouting.
As grownups look on, they feel gratitude that these primary relationships will be pillars on which their children build memories. Cousins broaden and deepen a child’s understanding of family.
As the story of extended family is written on these children’s hearts, we can enjoy watching with great satisfaction. And maybe a set of earplugs.