Monday, October 19, 2009

Cousin Deprived

That's what my kids are.  Whereas my mother grew up with 40-something (or some other equivalently huge number) first cousins, the number of those that we are actually in touch with is... maybe two.  In my generation, there is only one child-of-a-cousin who's around my age that I know well enough to maybe say hi to.
 
My father only had a few first cousins, and although they remained close (his parents sponsored everybody back in Europe and their families lived together at various points in my grandparents' house downtown), for whatever reason, we only got to know a couple, and not many of their offspring in our generation.
 
My father's two sibs had, between them, three kids (my dad was the prolific one, with four!).  Three first cousins on my father's side.  I'm the oldest; the youngest is 18.
My mother's three sibs did a little better:  seven first cousins on that side, ranging from (?) early 50's to (?) late teens.
 
Of those ten first cousins, I'd say I've only seen about four in the last five years, including my father's funeral and the BBQ when my cousin went to Afghanistan.
And on those occasions that we did meet up, all we really had in common was that we mutually speak the English language.  (not even genes; two are adopted!)
 
All of which adds up to the fact that my own kids are cousin deprived.  We have gone in three generations from being a huge, busy extended multi-generational family to a bunch of older folks teetering on folding chairs with buffet plates, smiling down on the four children (mine) who've accidentally popped up in our midst.
 
They SOooo want cousins.
 
They do have five, on Ted's side.  All boys, most in their 20s.  All in Ottawa.  We are not deeply close.
 
Naomi lied a few weeks ago and told someone that a friend was her cousin; she just wanted it so badly.
She is fascinated by cousins.
 
When I told her that two of the little toddler girls we know, Shayna and Shevi, are cousins because their abbas are brothers... and that they have the last name... well, she could speak about nothing else for days.  ("Why is Shevi Shayna's cousin?"  "What's Shevi's last name?"  "What's Shayna's last name?")
 
Over Sukkos, one of Naomi's friends had a house full of cousins from other cities; they all had an amazing time playing together and got along great.
 
Of course, at least one of my sibs could have children.  Let's say sisters, because the other possibility (my brother having kids) is distinctly unsettling.  I really hope they both get a chance to have children, if that's what they want and the time is right in their lives, and all of that. 
 
But even if they were impregnated tomorrow, YM will be 15 years older, and even Gavriel Zev will be almost 3 by the time the cousins were born.  Three years would be okay.  But Naomi Rivka would be five.  And Elisheva could babysit!  Okay, it wouldn't be terrible.  But it wouldn't be cousins, cousins, like you grow up knowing, grow up in each other's houses.  The kind of cousins my mother had.
 
I hope my grandchildren get to have some cousins, someday.  I hope we're a big extended family, someday.

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