The warmer weather always brings a certain memory to mind: summers spent with my cousins.
We spent our days swimming, eating any junk that was within reach, fighting over turns on video games, watching marathons of cartoon reruns and playing intense battles of rock-paper-scissors to determine who would get to choose the movie we’d rent at Blockbuster.
Those really were the days.
Holidays, family affairs, birthdays—having great cousins is a year-round gift. Here are a few more reasons why cousins make the best kind of friends:
1. They were your first friends. You have been in each other’s lives since the diaper days. Unlike the school playground, you don’t get much of a choice when it comes to the kids you hang out with in your own backyard. You are stuck with each other, so, you might as well make the best of it by joining forces to torture your younger/older siblings. A bond made over a pinky swear to do everything possible to drive your sister crazy is unbreakable.
2. You learn all of the “Big Stuff” together. You mean, Santa isn’t real? My mom made my Easter basket? Dad keeps the teeth I lost in his sock drawer? And there is a grown man inside of Barney?! Growing up is chock-full of these lovely surprises. Without cousins, who would we have had secret meetings with to discuss what is actually real and what is not? The first time someone told us that WWE fights were staged, we called an emergency meeting and shut that rumor down immediately. No one willingly gets hit over the head with a chair—nobody.
3. The Birds and the Bees. Babies come from where?! This might be the most defining piece of info gathered in childhood. Having cousins around means that you get to swap the secret info you’ve recently discovered. Although, the information is usually a little off. You know, like the time they told you that when parents hold hands it makes a baby grow in their mom’s butt and climb out of Aunt Wendy’s bellybutton? Yep. That’s still pretty much spot-on.
4. Weekday Sleepovers. These are like the lottery for children—it’s not likely to happen, but you can’t win if you don’t play. However, when it comes to asking if a cousin can stay over on a school night, the chances double in your favor! Mostly because your mom wants your aunt to come over to dish out all the dirt on who Uncle Gary is sleeping with now, all while drinking boxed wine. Win-win.
5. Embarrassing Family Photos. These photos are proof that your cousins have hung out with you at every stage in your life. Like the stage where you had the worst perm in the history of perms and rocked Mom Jeans that gave you endless camel toe. Yeah, they had a front row seat to ALL of those stages—and they are not afraid to #TBT the shit out of them if you piss them off enough.
6. Grandma’s House. It’s Saturday night and your parents, aunts and uncles all have a party to attend. You know what that means: underage party at Grandma’s house. This is the place where you and your cousins can pop Baby Bottle Pops all night and do lines of Pixie Stix. She might say that it’s the last time she takes all of you at once, but, we all know we will be back next weekend. Love you, Grandma!
7. Hot Mess Holidays. One of the greatest things about having cousins is that you get to talk crap about how insane everyone in your family really is together—and that level of insanity only increases when the holidays hit. So-and-so thinks so-and-so stole their deviled egg recipe and your Great Aunt Sue accuses your creepy Uncle Pete of pinching her ass and Nana is drunk again and wants to drive home and so on and so on. Sure, it’s a shit show—but it’s OUR shit show. And we wouldn’t exchange any of them for anything… Well, except for maybe Uncle Pete. He is entertaining, but, he’s also a bit of a perv.
8. They bring around hot friends. This may be one of your biggest fights as teenagers, but it will turn into a major score as adults. Your best friend now has a way to become family if you set her up with your favorite cousin. Or maybe you just got dumped and need a date to an event that you already RSVP’d for two—call up your cousin to help find you a date! He doesn’t have a friend available? Then go ahead and ask him to go. Although, if he’s the kind of cousin he should be, he will already be laying out his tux. You’ll have more fun with him, anyway.
9. They will always have your back. Sometimes, friends suck—the big one. Whenever a friend disappoints or bails, it is always reassuring to know that your cousins will be there to pick up their slack. Even when you are in the wrong, they will still find a way of making you feel alright about yourself. They know exactly who you are and will make sure that you find ways to be okay with that person, too.
10. You get to watch each other grow. Whether you guys are all married, all single, have no kids, or have 47 kids, it is an amazing thing to watch your family members grow into the people they truly are inside. They are witnesses to your greatest achievements and your biggest upsets in life. They will be there to mourn with you as quickly as they will be to celebrate you. Their partners become your friends, their loved ones become the ones you love, and—if they are really lucky—your children and their children will one day find a friendship similar to the one you have been so blessed to shared with them.