There's something so special about cousins. A kid's first friend after their brothers and sisters, a cousin can be both a playmate and confidante that straddles that fine line between family and friend.
I didn't know my own cousins that well growing up; my brothers and I are a lot older than our oldest first cousin and the youngest is nearly twenty years younger than I am. So watching my own kids and the relationships they have with my niece and nephews is a completely new experience for me.
It's a unique and special kind of relationship, this cousin relationship. There are the shared bonds of family, of holiday memories and special occasion celebrations. In a family this size, sometimes it seems we're celebrating one birthday or festivity or another every weekend. Sometimes it can be months in between visits. No matter how short or how long the separation, as soon as the kids are in a room together it's as if they were never apart and they pick right up where they left off, running and chasing and shouting and playing.
There are very few things that melt my heart more than listening to the older boys teaching the younger ones how to play a game or watching my son and my niece cooking together in our play kitchen or sitting in the sofa audience while the youngest two cousins put on a performance for the family, rocking out with their play guitars.
And when my two-year-old is asked who his friends are, he lists his cousins' names.
I'm so glad my boys have such a special friendship with their cousins.