I have almost 30 first cousins ranging in age from five to forty-something. While it would have been impossible to spend lots of time with all of them growing up, we certainly had our share of sleepovers, holidays, birthday parties, and backyard barbecues…not to mention family reunions. My girls have a much smaller cohort, but the benefits are still there. Here are a few roles those big kid cousins play that make life as a younger cousin so much better.
The Buffer– Having older cousins means they get to “break-in” family members, particularly grandparents, so everyone is less shocked by what you actually do. Throwing a tantrum at the dinner table? No big deal, they’ve seen it before. Bringing your tattooed boyfriend to the family party? Don’t worry, Ray brought his pierced girlfriend last year, and that was harder to explain to Great Aunt Dottie than those tribal tats.
The Provider– There is nothing better than hand-me-downs from those big girl cousins you look up to. The sight of trash bags filled with clothes made me shriek with joy. Now when I tell my daughter she is wearing something all three of her cousins and her sister wore, she giggles with excitement. It’s also nice for my bank account.
The Protector– When you’re the peanut in the family it can be tough to keep up with the rest of the crowd. My youngest wants to do everything everyone else is doing, including climb up the slide, walk in the parking lot, and sit in her own seat (no highchairs!) at the table. Lucky for her, when you have older cousins, they do their best to help you, include you, and keep you safe.
The Playmate– This one seems pretty obvious, but it’s one of my favorites as a parent. Going on a family vacation? Instant friends. Attending that family party? Hours of companionship. I used to love going to my aunt’s for holiday parties and playing upstairs in my cousin’s room and checking out all of her cool stuff (those Guns N’ Roses posters were a bit over my head, but I knew the hair was something). My girls aren’t quite to the poster phase yet, but they do love any chance they can get to play with their best cousins!
The Informant– There was a decent age gap between my older girl cousins and I, so they didn’t talk about “inappropriate stuff” very often, but I heard enough to know about parties and boyfriends. I see this being different with my nieces. My daughters are already part of their inner circle, and I’m pretty sure once you’re in, you’re in for life. I can only imagine what those girls will share with each other in the years to come, but there is no one else I would rather they be that close with. Unless it’s me of course, and their aunties….thank goodness for those aunties 🙂
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