Cousins

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My favorite photos of all the Thanksgiving/Chanukah/Thanksgivukkah photos that have been flying around the internet this week has been the “cousins” photo.  Happy kids embracing one another and smiling big for the camera.  I saw cousins on the beach, cousins in snow, cousins around a turkey and menorahs, cousins piled on couches and more.

What is it about these happy cousins that warms my heart?  (For the record, I didn’t grow up with cousins.  I have two first cousins a decade plus younger than me that lived far away.)  I watch my kids and their cousins and love the connection they all have.  Their ages range from college to toddler and yet, there is still a sweetness and camaraderie amongst them.

As adults, we siblings, enjoy seeing our kids connect with each other.  Since cousins often live in separate communities  and/or states there is the loving, fun and “vacation” mentality that they enjoy with one another without the day-to-day conflict that we see amongst siblings.  There is less competition, need to share and work together with cousins. Cousins spend a week at the beach together,  bond at holidays and other family gatherings that are surrounded by fun, celebration and low stress.

Although  many extended families have their share of tension, it seems like the young generation of cousins is spared the age old family spats and disagreements.  The cousins don’t care that their great aunt whoever has a ten year grudge against uncle so-and-so; they just care about giggling, beating their older cousin at the X-box and warm memories of these annual events.

I do hope that you and your family had a wonderful holiday  and their was some good cousin time shoved into the mix.

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Thanksgiving Thoughts

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The football game is on.  One kid is sitting  with me doing  homework, one is getting ready for bed and the college kid is home stirring up the pot that we call home.  It’s louder, sassier and more chaotic when we are all here under one roof, but it is The Nut House as we know it  and I wouldn’t trade it (well, most days).

Many of my friends and clients have endured the big transition of sending a child off to college and figuring out the ‘new normal’ with a less than full house.  I’ve heard talk about accidentally setting too many plates at the table, having to rework a grocery list to accommodate less mouths and scheduling a Skype call for  birthday celebrations.

Enter Thanksgiving Break.  The college kid comes home and sleeps his way through the early morning bus runs that the siblings must suffer for the first part of the week, the bathroom schedule is upended and there are suddenly 137 shoes and jackets to trip over  as opposed to the mere 82 that have become my routine land mines.    This ‘new normal’ that most families have adapted to throughout the fall is now interrupted and we all transition again.

It’s only been three months and yet the college kid has done a one-eighty.  An entirely new living situation, meal routine and academic regiment.  New friends, infinite experiences, unbridled freedom and yet, now their parents want to know where they are.

I read a discussion online by a group of parents of freshman about whether to enforce a curfew when their child was home for break.  I read another discussion from another group of parents worrying about their freshman being able to negotiate the airport and all that entails to arrive safely home to their excited, worried and wanting-to-parent-but-not-sure-how  parents.

Once again, it will be a learning experience for all of us, parents and kids alike.  A beautiful and brilliant woman reminded me “one day he will be a parent and he will know that you yelled at him out of fear. Until then – just think about how we felt when we were 18 and so desperate to prove that we could manage by ourselves, and how galling it was to find out that we couldn’t”.

Happy and healthy Thanksgiving to all of the new freshman, their loving parents and everyone else that happens to still be reading.