Friday, July 11, 2014

7QT (Vol. 94): Cousins by the Dozens

When my children visit their grandparents, they are plied with all forms of entertainment. There are books, toys, puzzles, art supplies, and musical instruments. Outside they have access to a swimming pool, kiddie pool, sandbox, berry patch, basketball hoop, tricycles, apple trees, and more. All four grandparents are willing and able to get down and play with the kids on their level.

When I was growing up, we went to my Grandpa's house almost every Sunday evening. His basement was something of a small arcade (pool/ping-pong table, air hockey table, and "bowling" game), but as young kids we didn't spend much time down there. Usually we stayed long enough to roll billiard balls around until one of us pinched our fingers, then went back upstairs.

In the rest of the house, there was really not much entertainment. For a 3200 sq. ft. house with six bedrooms, it had surprisingly few toys. In fact, my memory is that there was exactly one box of toys. It was maybe two cubic feet and was half full: a windup music box, maybe 30 Legos (a few of which glowed in the dark!), two plastic elephants, some other odds and ends.

The yard was small with no usable playthings. (There was a basketball hoop, but it usually had a car under it.) Grandpa lived on a parkway, so there was a place to run and climb trees, but no playground equipment or fruit to eat. There were also railroad tracks at the end of the street... perhaps not the safest place to play, but we did anyway.

I never remember being bored, though, because what we had in abundance were cousins. I am the second youngest of 23 cousins in my mom's family. Many of them lived out of state, so we only saw each other at Christmas or maybe one other time, but a bunch of us were local. What we were lacking in toys we made up with imagination. We just played. And when the out-of-towners came, the play got louder and larger and longer into the night.

I can confidently say that most if not all of us still consider ourselves friends. A year or two or three might pass between getting together, but we are cousins. We are family. By making time every year, our parents taught us that we matter to each other. As crazy as some (most) of us are, we love each other and enjoy being together - and that includes spouses. I didn't realize until fairly recently how unusual that is. Thanks, cousins.

No, this isn't a stock photo. He's actually one of my cousins. :-)
Photo credit: (this cousin's more normal brother)

To be very clear, this isn't a passive-aggressive push at getting my family to procreate. I just think my parents and in-laws should each have had about ten kids so my kids could also have tons of cousins. :-)

More 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary

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