I have survived more than half of my Summer of Insanity. I’m exhausted—but yet, I’m also exhilarated. My schedule has been blown to bits, my routine is nil, my free time is miniscule, my sleep is pathetically lacking. But I have reconnected with my siblings, I have been re-introduced to nieces and a nephew whose recollection of me one year later was vague at best, and, the crown of it all, I have watched my kids connect with their aunts and uncles and cousins.
Is there something special about being related? All of my siblings are separated by at least 10 hours of driving, so our kids see each other once each year. All of our kids tend to be shy, hanging onto our knees at playdates. And yet from the moment they met, the cousins fell into playing happily together unlike their play with anyone else. All three moms commented on it.
This play has been good for my kids. Around here, I’ve not managed to find them playmates who are a good fit. The kids in the two families I’ve connected with most regularly seem to have a different style of play or different interests than my kids; playdates usually consist of their kids growling and chasing my terrified children or my kids huddling in a corner playing with trains while their “friend” hollers desperately that they are playing wrong or that they really ought to be interested in playing something else. I’d seen glimpses of hope when my oldest made a magical connection with another child at a park, but I wasn’t sure how to nurture or recreate that spark.
With their cousins, it has happened. Over and over again, they have gleefully run off to make messes together, to imagine together. Little Goober tells me stories about her “other sisters”—her girl cousins—and Peatie asks daily if his cousins are at Grandma’s house to play with him. This brings me great joy, but it also breaks my heart.
It is already drawing to a close. Goobie’s “other sisters” have gone home. The remaining two cousins will be in town for two weeks, gone for one, then back for just a few final days. And that will be the end of it until next summer, when we’ll have just one week together. How I wish that they lived closer, or that I at least could find a family with whom we could create some sort of surrogate connection. Lucky are those who have such close relationships in close proximity.