Cousin’s Night

Cousin's Night minus 2

Is anything more fun than being a grandparent?!  Nothing comes to mind. Whoever said, “If I had known that having grandchildren was so much fun, I’d had them first!”  Amen brother, amen!  I love my three boys, but man this grandkid thing is an adventure!  And right now (unless someone has failed to clue me in) there are 10 of the little boogers running around this farm.  Plus, they all live within 3 miles of the farm.  Oh you are SO lucky is what some may be thinking right now.  You’re right, we are blessed beyond measure!  We have birthday gatherings (at least 10 of them 🙂 and holidays and unplanned gatherings…but those times are not exactly what you would call “quality” time?  I mean, the little guys have to be fed and hunted up and entertained and fed.  “En masse” means us wimmin folk have a multitude of duties to perform which means someone is usually urging one of the Big Guys to go see where all the kids are now!

So, a while back, I instituted what we call “Cousins Night”.  All of the cuties come to our house to spend the night, play checkers, push each other in wheelbarrows, hunt rocks on a walk, do puzzles or make up tall tales, taking turns telling them. (It’s really really REALLY hard for a 3 year old to wait for their turn by the way.  A timer is the key.)  Or we might all go out to the Lodge to roast wieners, chase bugs, walk down the lane beside the house to the old barn and creek (pronounced “crick” in these parts).  Of course, they like to get out all of the old Fisher Price Little People sets too.  And the girls will freak the boys out by dragging out dolls and dress-up paraphernalia.  But the boys like to freak the girls out with bugs.  No wait.  The girls like bugs.  The boys climb to the top of my pecan tree.  Nope, the little ladies can scoot up that tree as fast as the boys.  OK, so not much freaks these girls out.  The point is, they love being together.  They beg for a Cousin’s Night. 

I would encourage you grannies out there in cyberworld to think about trying this.  Your grands may be spread out all over, but maybe you could aim for something twice a year.  Whatever fits your schedule.  And theirs.  It’s a break for the mommies and daddies.  I think sons and DIL’s  look forward to our nights as much as the kids do!?  And it is quality time!  We aim for once a month here.

Planning is key though.  You canNOT not have a plan.  Trust me on this.  They can’t run amuck.  Chaos follows closely behind and is a thing to fear!  Ask me how I know…

  • Know what you’re going to have for their supper.  Keep it simple.  You MUST keep it simple!!! We have hot dogs.  A lot.
  • Plan all activities…puzzles, storytelling, domino building, storyreading, games, outside running around chasing each other, races.  Don’t rely on the “let’s figure it out as we go” philosophy.  Chaos, I tell you.  Chaos.  Especially if you have a wide age range.  What entertains a 2 yr old will bore the cotton socks off a 10 yr old.
  • Put an older child in charge of the youngest.  The definition may vary from younger child to younger child.  It may mean “don’t let him/her out of your sight for one second” and it may mean “ok now you’re stalking/hovering.  Let the kid breathe.”  They make sure younger child’s hands are washed for supper, that he has food, that all potty visits have been attended to (and that the seat is now down and flushing has taken place), that said child has something to sleep in or on or under…whatever.  At this point, you can’t be too picky.
  • Which brings us to the Who Sleeps Where and With Whom point.  You decide ahead of time.  And only YOU.  Don’t let the little darlin’s talk you into Plan Z.  You know these kids and you know who will keep you up until all hours giggling if they’re together.  Again, the Big Brother approach is good here too.  I’ve found that Little Brothers tend settle down faster with Big Brother at his side.  Of course, there are times when Big Brother is bonkers.  Complete isolation works too, if you have enough beds or floor space.
  • Which brings in bedding…I’ve given up on beds for everyone.  Besides, they think it’s an adventure to sleep on the living room rug.  So now, I ask all participants to bring a sleeping bag.  Makes the next morning cleanup a breeze!
  • Assign a room/corner for each child’s stuff.  They really don’t bring a lot, but when you have 10 piles of stuff…well, it piles up fast.  And nobody can find their stuff.
  • Accidents are expected.  Have first aid supplies at the ready.  And pray you don’t need them.  But then there are spilling accidents.  And breaking accidents. No biggie. 
  • If you’re getting the whole lot of them ready for Sunday School the next morning (most of our Cousin’s Nights hit on Sat. especially in the school year), BE PREPARED!!!!!!!!  This is the event that can make or break an excellent granny.  Big Brother steps in once again to aid and assist the feeding of and dressing of little ones.  Thank goodness.  The boys are pretty easy, but the girls have hair that has to be dealt with.  I love fixing their hair but mercy, 4 at one time?!!!  Simplicity is key here again.  Breakfast may be just cereal even if they are insisting that you and only you are the only person on the face of the earth who can scramble eggs and cheese to their liking. (These kids are con artists. They ALL are.  Beware.) Each child has a buddy at this point and this gets you to the getting-in-the-car part.  Safely, with all clothes on, tummies full, bladders empty and seat belts on.
  • Once you’ve marched them into Sunday School, these sweet little babes are someone else’s problem.  Just kidding.  But then didn’t someone semi-famous but maybe not so bright say “It takes a village.”?  Since I play the organ, their Paw leads the singing and one of their moms plays the piano, uncles and aunts have to take over during the worship service.  But I do have to say, being the objective granny that I am, they all behave beautifully in church.  Really.

After church, our sweethearts go home.  And we go home, where it’s really really quiet. It’s almost like your ears are roaring it’s so quiet.  Forget lunch.  Go take a nap.  You deserve it!

 All in all, it’s a memory making time for use.  We love it.  The kids love it.  Their parents love it.  And it always reminds us why G-d gave us children when we were young and had some energy!!  Can’t wait until next time!!!

I’ll bet you have ideas on a Cousin’s Night too. Share?!!!

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12 Responses to Cousin’s Night

  1. servetus says:

    I loved time spent with my cousins as a child, and (next to the amazing wonder of being an aunt) the adult relationships I have with my cousins have been the most affirming, unabashedly joyous part of family relationships I have. Good on you for fostering this.

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    • The Queen says:

      Me too, Serv. I had a little friend who lived across the street and everytime my cousins would come, she’d go home mad!! LOL!! “Awwww, the cousins are comin’! ” were her exact words. And mine were all boys. That’s how I learned to play football and baseball, climb trees, chunk rocks with decent aim. The one thing they never could teach me was to whistle through my teeth. Bummer. BTW, aunts can do Cousin’s Nights too. 😉

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      • servetus says:

        Some day — right now that would mean five plane tickets 🙂

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      • The Queen says:

        Oh come on. You get paid big bucks. Spring for 5 tickets=no big deal! LOL! You could always take over your folk’s house next visit and throw a party?

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        • servetus says:

          it’s actually on my list — I think that all of my nuclear family relationships would improve if my parents were able to have small overnight guests. At the moment it’s a pain due to fact that they are suffering from CHAOS (can’t have anyone over syndrome) most of the time — but I’m hoping that the next round will allow me to make their house safe for habitation by small humans …

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      • The Queen says:

        I agree that it would help family relations. There’s just something about stumbling over a sleeping body and standing in line for the bathroom that creates a loving atmosphere! Just kidding but you know what I mean. Big Boss and I were just talking about this very thing last night. His folks very seldom went anywhere and stayed overnight with relatives. My family did often. Our family vacations were planned according to who we could stay with on the way. And they all did the same. Never heard of motels. Made for some fun times!!!

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  2. bccmee says:

    What a fun account of Cousins Night. I grew up in a large family and my parents were both from large families so I had quite a few cousins. It’s still a blast to get together with them!

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  3. The Queen says:

    Ours wasn’t a huge family, but we were together a lot. Not as often now, but when we do get together, we have FUN!! I was the only girl and the oldest…I had total and complete Bossing Rights. Still do. They just don’t know it.

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  4. Myna says:

    My grandchildren don’t live close, but I definitely want to do this. Sounds like wonderful memories being made.

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    • The Queen says:

      You won’t regret it Myna! We haven’t had any of the little ones over until they’re potty trained. Good rule although it always made me feel bad when we left them at home. But they got mom and dad’s full attention, so it worked out OK.

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  5. Teuchter says:

    Your writings are always so much fun to read TQ! This one brought back such wonderful memories of my childhood. Although my parents both came from families with seven children, I am an only child and many of my cousins were a number of years older than I or our families just weren’t that close, as seems to happen sometimes, even though we lived in the same city.

    I did have three girl cousins – sisters – with whom I was very close. They were older that I but not by that much. They didn’t live in the city but many miles away is a small seaside town called Macduff!! Sounds VERY Scottish doesn’t it (as it is, of course!!) Their Dad – and my uncle – was a Science Master in the local High School so his holidays always coincided with ours of course and I spent many happy weeks there each summer. We had wonderful and oh-so-memorable times together, running around barefoot as much as possible. Making up our own plays and performing them in the small marquee/tent out on the front lawn. Walking a few miles to the open-air unheated swimming pool that was absolutely FREEZING as they used filtered sea water (it was built right next to it – the North Sea I mean – not known for being warm even in summer) to fill it. Sometimes, if it was windy, the waves just came over the wall so you could find things like jelly-fish or seaweed in the water!!! Taking with us what we called “a shivery piece” to eat on the walk home once we were dressed again. Going on amazing picnics with my aunt and uncle and sometimes other families to small sandy coves where the water was not quite so cold – collecting drift wood to build a fire in order to make delicious tarry-smelling tea from a kettle totally blackened on the outside to drink with the sandwiches and other food we had brought with us; crazily climbing up rocks that I would never have attempted when I was older!! Being sent down into town to Jeannie Lyons’ to buy kippers!! The best you ever tasted!! She bought the herring off the fishing boats when they came into harbour and smoked them herself! No artificial colour like some are today. Just unbelievably juicy and delicious – even though the whole house stank of them afterwards!! And one more memory! Lying in bed listening to classical music wafting up from downstairs, being played either by my uncle on the piano or viola or him playing and accompanied by some of their friends on cello and violin!! Unforgettable!!!!!!!!!

    SORRY!!!! I just got caught up in reminiscing there for a moment!! My own “grands” range in age from 12 to 26 but I love to see them all together at Christmas and such like. They all get on so well and are all pretty close to each-other even though three of them are now married. The younger ones still have sleep-overs now and again, sometimes here in our house, so I still feel part of it all without the responsibility!! 🙂 Thanks for the memories, my dear!!!

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  6. The Queen says:

    I’m packing my bags for Scotland!! Your memories just make me want to get there all the more. I’ve always wanted to go and check out my roots. Kippers are something I’ve never had. Must put that on my list of Things to Do in Scotland.

    I longed for a sister as a child. Or just a female period! I did have a little girl cousin who was born when I was 6. I was SOO excited. She lived for 2 weeks and died of an congenital heart defect.

    But thankfully, my aunt was just 5 yrs older than me so she was like a sister. And still is. She picked on me unmercifully but will swear to her dying day than it was I pinched. I was a world class pincher. I’ll have to write about some of our adventures sometime.

    But I don’t have the musical memories to compare to yours! Wow. Classical music to lull you to sleep. Can’t get any better than that!!!

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