Twenty-four! That’s how many first cousins I have on my mom’s side of the family. With twenty-four cousins, there was always somebody ready to play. Kickball, basketball, riding bikes, king-of-the-hill on grandma’s front porch-never an excuse for boredom!
As much as we loved playing together, we were not always nice to each other. One particular story comes to mind. I was spending the night at Aunt Mary’s house. She had six girls but was always willing to add one more. Her oldest daughter, Rebecca, was born twenty days after me, and we were always close growing up. One of us could be pretty bossy-not saying which one…
We loved to play pretend. This particular day we were playing house. Rebecca and I were the moms, the younger sisters divided between us as our kids. A make-believe phone call was made, an invitation to visit offered, with only one condition. Barbara could tag along, but not Janice-she would have to stay home. In other words, we didn’t want to play with Janice. The youngest of our pretend family, we decided she was too little to play.
Well, Aunt Mary got wind of our little plan, as usual. She sat us down for a chat. “Girls, imagine if I invited your Aunt Geneva over for coffee, and told her to bring Aunt Martha, but not Aunt Linda (her youngest sister). How do you think that would make your Aunt Linda feel?” Of course, that would not be nice, and sounded completely ridiculous! We got the message.
I know it sounds simple, but sometimes simple is exactly what we need. Gentle reminders, for both children and adults, encouraging us to walk in another’s shoes. Remembering our actions are capable of greatly impacting the feelings of others.
At that moment, Aunt Mary could have simply given us a consequence or made us go play outside. After all, there were seven girls playing inside the house! Instead, she chose to be calm and thoughtful in her response, giving us a real-life situation we could easily understand-and would never forget.
Thankful for cousin memories and the wisdom of simple truths.