I have been pondering the cousin relationship for a while.
My first cousins were very important to me when I was a child. Although they were quite a lot older, they lived in the same town and we saw them regularly. They obviously enjoyed having a younger child to take care of and we remained close throughout my growing up. As adults we all moved to different parts of the country (different parts of the world even) and my middle cousin died of cancer when she was 35. These days we only seem to meet up for family events - weddings and funerals, but they are still family and those ties remain.
Steve also has a wide extended family of first cousins who were much the same age and has memories of Christmases where they all bunked down on the floor at his grandparents' house, family trips to Wales, cricket on the beach.
So we were sad for our own girls growing up without cousins. Eventually Steve's brother and his wife had twin daughters, but our girls were well into teenage and we only saw them once or twice a year, so although they are fond of them they regard them as a different generation and don't really feel they know them well.
Now I'm wondering how it will be for our grandchildren. So far there are three of them, aged between 16 months and 3 years in two separate families. Very close in age, but separated by 160 miles. How will their cousinly relationships develop? This week Alice has been visiting with Dan and we all spent a lot of time together. The first day Dan and Iris hardly engaged with each other at all - Dan was feeling very insecure away from home and Iris was feeling very threatened by this small boy she was expected to share toys and attention with. But the second day they relaxed a little and started to play together. The photo captures the moment when they actually gave each other a hug and a kiss.