E has 2 cousins, one that she hadn't seen since she was 2-ish months old, and one that she had never met. All of that changed last week. She still has 2 cousins, but now they are no longer abstract figments of her imagination or two-dimensional faces on a computer screen. They are Cousin Aayla and Cousin Ruby and she loves them.
We spent a few days in Kingston last week where E had her first experience of sharing the spotlight as we all descended on GrammaPapa for a little family reunion. My brother, his wife, their adorable kids, myself and the girl. Dada was working...insert mock surprise here. It took about two seconds for E and A to become best friends, and as they grabbed hold of each other's hands and trotted across the parking lot, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. You just never know how these things will go...kids being unpredictable and all. Sure, there was a little fighting over toys, and sometimes E had a little more love to offer than 17 month old R was willing to accept, and bedtime got knocked on its keester a couple of times. But bathtime was an absolute delight, there were snuggles for anyone who wanted them and giggles erupting from every corner. A taught E the elaborate art of dress-up, E introduced A to the Pied Piper and R used the potty for the first time ever.
After whisking E back to Ottawa in time for a day of rest and her very first day of preschool, the cousins came and stayed for the weekend. There was more bedtime tomfoolery, movies in the middle of the day, cake for dinner and casserole for breakfast, lots and lots of stories and much, much more work being done on the potty. Sure, it gets a little hairy with 4 adults and 3 kids occupying the same space, but when it works, it's magic.
Every morning, E's first question as soon as I walked into her room was "Are my cousins still here??" And last night, after they had packed up and moved on, she named two of her dolls Aayla and Ruby and insisted on sleeping with them, one tucked under each arm.
We're going to see them again next weekend, just for the day to celebrate Aayla's 4th birthday in Kingston. Then they'll head back to British Columbia where they live, and I'm pretty sure it will be a long time before we see them again. That's hard, knowing how important those first meaningful relationships are to a child, and knowing that she just won't understand why we can't see them anytime we want. But after what went on this past week, I have a feeling that it won't take much to steer us west the next time we start talking family vacation.