Recently, we went up north for Scott’s 20th college reunion. He went to the College of Wooster, in Ohio, and most of both our families still live a couple of hours away, in the Cincinnati area. His Mom drove up and met us there, and on the way out of town, we caught up with his sister, Judy, and her family, for about an hour.
I have always said that if I’d had to do things in reverse, and choose my spouse based on who I would have for in-laws, I’d still have wound up married to the same guy. From the first time I showed up at their homes, all of them have been welcoming and loving towards me. And not just to me, but to each other as well. Scott and his sisters have an amazingly close bond for people who grew up giving each other nicknames like “Angel Child” and “Whale on the Beach”.
Two of those sisters, Judy and Holly, have kids, and the kids are the most amazing cousins. Ryan was only a year old when Scott and I got together. A little under, technically, but I met the kid at his first birthday party, where I met Scott’s Mom, as well. Then, the next month, I met Elizabeth and Courtney at Elizabeth’s fifth birthday party. (Elizabeth turns seventeen this year, in case you’re following the timeline.) Anyway, by that holiday season, Scott and I were officially an “item” to the point that we spent Christmas with both families, and I got to see the cousins together.
I could not believe how sweet Courtney and Elizabeth were to the nineteen month old Ryan. How much they wanted to play with him at their own ages of five and three respectively. When Ryan got a little sister in Meaghan not too long after that, the cousin-bond grew even stronger. The big kids went out of their way to do things that included the little kids. The little kids idolized the older ones and were rewarded with adoration in return.
But by the time I had Caroline, Meaghan was four years old. Ryan was six, Courtney was almost eight, and Elizabeth was practically ten. I worried that Caroline would be too much younger to have fun with her older cousins, that the age gap would simply be too big. I shouldn’t have wasted my time. From the day she was born, Caroline was an adored member of their little enclave. When she was just a month old, all of the cousins came to meet her, and even Ryan found her pretty worthwhile.
And it’s always been that way. Sam got the same treatment. He and Caroline now pretty much worship all four of their cousins, who heap love on them in return. When we lived in Lexington, we had the joy of hosting Elizabeth and then Courtney for a week during the summer so they could get to know their cousins better. We moved to Montgomery before Ryan and Meaghan were old enough, but those two have still made opportunities to foster a loving relationship with our much younger kids.
And seriously, it is the kids who make these relationships work. We grown-ups could force them upon each other all we wanted to, and if they didn’t want to be friends, it wouldn’t happen. When we got together with Judy around Scott’s reunion, she and her family were getting ready to leave on vacation. Meaghan was spending the weekend with Grandma B before the vacation, and those two delayed their own departure to see us. Ryan came home early from a sleepover. And both Ryan and Meaghan were excited by their visit from Caroline and Sam.
Meaghan let Caroline and Sam climb up into the bed her Dad just made her. (And may I say, Judy’s husband Will is an amazing carpenter. The thing looks store bought.)
Ryan played a game of hide and seek with Caroline then held an epic stick swordfight with Sam at great peril to his own vital organs.
Caroline and Sam are growing up with these amazing role models. (Yeah, sorry. I did say that. And it is completely true. All four of the older cousins are truly worthy of admiration.) It was something I never had as a kid, and I love to watch these relationships develop. On my side, they have just one cousin, my sweet niece Kaylee, who is much closer to their own age. They have grand fun with her, too, mistake me not, but it’s a totally different dynamic, and Kaylee is much more of a peer than the cousins on Scott’s side.
So, I just wanted to take a moment to thank Betty for driving up to see us in Wooster, and Judy and Will for welcoming us even at a hectic time of their own. But most especially, I wanted to thank Ryan and Meghan for taking time to play with and love Caroline and Sam. Caroline’s and my nail polish is peeling, and Sam’s has come off his fingers entirely. But both kids’ toes are still getting compliments at the pool. We love you. We miss you. We can’t wait to see you at Christmas.