The love between cousins can be a powerful thing. Drag out the old family photo albums, and there we are, gathered around a birthday cake or jumping over the garden sprinkler. It’s a bond different to all others.
Epic concerts put on for the parents, top and tail sleepovers and day long games of hide and seek pepper our childhood memories. This Christmas, I am actually most excited about watching this special relationship continue for my own kids and their cousins.
This genuine love for the cuz is quite the gift. But what makes this relationship so special?
5 reasons why cousins are special
1. Our cousins are often our very first buddies.
Unlike other orchestrated play dates, there is no ‘testing the waters’ to see how the ‘new friends’ play together. Rather, cousins are thrust in to each other’s homes and are part of the family. For parents, it’s incredibly reassuring to know your child is safe and loved throughout their visit.
2. Time together is often for a special occasion
A party, a wedding, an anniversary, or even as often as a weekly Sunday roast. Apart from the inevitable funeral, time spent together is often memorable, with celebration food, activities and good times. The grown ups are relaxed, and often the ‘big ones’ are left to look after the ‘little ones’, so there is a greater sense of freedom…and possibility more capacity for a little mischief. Lunches roll in to evenings and spotlight tiggy begins!
3. Cousins share a story
Jokes about Great Aunty Sue’s sponge cake or memories of the camping holiday that was washed out, pass easily between cousins. They share all the ‘inside’ family jokes, history and memories, but after catching up, each family returns to their own homes. This means cousins are fresh and ready to launch right back alongside each other for the next exciting instalment.
4. Our cousins ‘get’ us
Often cousins are raised with similar values and hold the same core beliefs. This can help if we need someone to bounce our thoughts off. A sibling might just be too close, yet we might not be ready to divulge to a friend. A cousin might just be that little bit removed, but near enough to be able to read between the lines. Plus they can put us back in our place in a way friends might not be comfortable doing.
5. When cousins are together, the sense of unity is powerful
A tribe can be fun, especially if there is an only child or smaller family in the mix. The older kids help out with the little ones, forming another love dimension. A game of cricket becomes a test series, to be reconvened next visit. The Easter concert has numerous acts. There are new soccer tricks taught, hair braiding salons, and cubbies or forts are always next level when a big cousin is helping! The little ones begin their adoration for their big cousins, and the protective streak from the big to the little is often nurtured.
Family comes first
We can ooooh and aaaaah when we see old baby photos of our kids in shared christening gowns, or wearing quality baby clothes that their cousin simply grew out of too fast. We drop everything to pick up a cousin if need be and care for the kids if someone becomes ill.
This desire to care for each other is an incredibly important family value and encourages the depths of their own relationships. Family comes first.
Cousins for days
I once rode the school bus with a friend who had 34 first cousins on one side. They were all incredibly close and I was always jealous of her constant playmates and exciting weekends. Even as adults, this has continued on with their own children. They are so proud of each other and always try to ‘represent’ their family in the right manner. Sadly, I am well aware this is not the case for every family. Each to their own and I’m sure everyone has their reasons.
Earlier this year I asked my son what he wanted most for his birthday. I will admit to a little prickle of tears as he announced that all he wanted was to spend the full day with his beloved cousin.
Would they be such amazing little friends if they just met in the playground? Maybe. Possibly not. The cousin connection extends beyond age and looks and skills and hobbies; they simply have to find a common ground.
More often than not, they do, and this really can be a beautiful thing. For many cousins out there, time nor distance can break this special connection.
And if you are lucky enough to have the whole crew over this Christmas, check out these 11 fun and adventurous activities for kids this summer to keep them all entertained.