When I was a kid, we never lived near my cousins. The closest were a few hours drive away and we saw them maybe 3 times a year on holidays or a special summer trip. The others we saw once a year on their annual trip to Missouri. When we did get together, we had a ton of fun playing and laughing and doing things that kids do but I never felt like I really knew my cousins.
In school I would get jealous of my friends who had cousins nearby. I was jealous of that bond that they had. I always wanted to have a cousin who was also my best friend. I loved my cousins dearly, but I didn’t get to see them often enough to form that kind of friendship with them.
When I found out I was pregnant with Zach, my sister was about six or seven months into her pregnancy. I was so excited to know that my son or daughter would have a cousin that was so close in age. I hoped that one day they would become the best of friends and share the love that only cousins can share.
Last weekend I saw that dream coming to life. Saturday night, Ryan came to our house to spend the night. We wanted to give his mom and dad a break so they could celebrate their anniversary and figured the boys would have a great time playing together for the evening.
Even with the six month age difference, Zach and Ryan seem to be hitting a few developmental milestones around the same time. Right now, they are both finally able to actually play together instead of the parallel play that they previously demonstrated. The boys played so well together all night that I rarely had to step in and remind them to share. They were laughing and squealing and having so much fun.
They took turns riding on Zach’s hand made rocking horse, danced to their favorite music, looked at books, played with cars, climbed in and out of Zach’s red wagon, chased bubbles, and ran around the yard. They were happy and carefree, just as toddlers should be.
When it came time for bedtime I set up the pack ‘n’ play right next to Zach’s toddler bed for Ryan to sleep in. The boys went to bed without a fuss and settled in for the night. When I went to check on them a few minutes later, Ryan was asleep and Zach was laying there looking at him. He soon nodded off too.
Sunday morning we got up and headed off to church where we would meet back up with Ryan’s parents. We did our usual Sunday routine of church and dinner afterwards at my Dad’s house and then parted ways.
Zach fell asleep on the drive home and then finished his nap in his bed. When he awoke, I found him crying and asking for “Ry-Ry”. He kept pointing to the pack ‘n’ play and saying, “Ry-Ry, Ry-Ry,” over and over again. He missed his cousin. I explained to him that Ryan was at home with his Mommy and Daddy, but he kept insisting.
Finally, as a last ditch effort to settle him down, I told him we could call Ry-Ry on the phone and talk to him. Never in my life would I have imagined how well an almost 2 year old and a 2 1/2 year old could carry on a phone conversation. Ryan did most of the talking, but Zach stood there with a huge goofy grin on his face interjecting once in a while. He was so happy just to be talking to his cousin on the phone.
Later that night, when I put Zach to bed, he pointed to the pack ‘n’ play once more with a sad look on his face, asking for Ry-Ry. Once again I explained to him that Ryan was at home with his Mommy and that he would see him again soon. He seemed satisfied with that and went on to bed.
Somewhere deep inside I was feeling all warm and fuzzy. As much as I hate to project my own wants and emotions onto my child, it somehow seemed that something missing in my life had suddenly been fulfilled. My son begging for his cousin brought tears of both sadness and joy to my eyes. I love that he loves his cousins so much. I only wish that his other cousins lived a little closer so that he could know them as well as he knows my sister’s kids.