The cousins invaded last week, as I’d been warning Bean-girl for weeks. My sister-in-law and her four children arrived for their first visit to our home. I now have the barest inkling of the life Jon and Kate Gosselin might lead (minus tabloids and product endorsements, of course). When food landed on the kitchen table, it seemed to instantaneously vanish under the serving ladle. Whole bags of fruit—cherries, strawberries, grapes—evaporated from the fridge. The fridge mysteriously cleared itself out every evening. We go through four gallons of milk a week, my sister-in-law told me, and it’s no exaggeration. Little girls were everywhere in our house—laughing, chattering, long hair swinging. Bean-girl was in heaven, with the attention of four cousins, three of them sudden “older sisters” to play with. After her initial reservations, Legume warmed up and also plunged into the noise and chaos.
My husband’s amazing sister has triplet pre-teens—three 10-year old girls. Plus one fifteen year old boy. All of them beautiful and charming, with no trace of fabled teen sulkiness. It strikes me how young they all seem to me. I thought ten would seem old compared to Bean-girl’s four—isn’t ten practically puberty these days, according to media reports? But ten is still very much an age of childhood. My ten year old nieces can make their own sandwiches, scramble their own eggs. But they also still play games of make-believe. They giggle as madly at nonsensical jokes as any four-year old. They’re all in a zillion sports—track, swim team, horseback riding. They’ve read the Stephanie Meijer “Twilight” series and tell me that these books are all the rage in their school (a statement which rather took me aback). Yet they clamor Mommy, mommy! in the same tones as a preschooler demanding for their mother to Look at this! See me! Help me! Pay attention!
And the fifteen year old boy, despite having a drivers’ permit, seems young to me as well. Still affectionate with his younger sisters, unapologetically close to his family—none of the reserve that I imagined would come with his age, or the reserve that I imagine I felt at that age (and did I? Can I really remember?) Still so young they all seem—open and unguarded as summer blooms.
Bean-girl and Legume stayed home with their father and relatives all of last week. Husband took the week off work (I had to go into work, alas). Nearly every day brought an outing for the kids—to the zoo, the botanical gardens, the beach. Nights brought popcorn and movies at home. Despite the crowd, I will say that my kitchen was neater than it usually is, with conscientious house-guests jumping up to lend a hand. And there were four older kids to keep an eye on Bean-girl and Legume, to take them outside to play or entertain them while the adults cleaned up and maybe even relaxed.
Bean-girl bonded most especially with cousin M. They spent hours together, just the two of them. Holed up in Bean-girl’s room telling stories, playing with stuffed animals, cuddling in bed. One of their favorite games was one in which Bean-girl pretended she was M and M pretended that she was Bean-girl. They found this game endlessly, inexplicably amusing.
And in the midst of all this, Legume turned two. Exactly one week ago. It wasn’t a well-thought out party. My gifts, I’m rather ashamed to say, were picked up at a local toy store that very evening. Auntie E and the cousins made a cake. Helium balloons were left over from a trip to the grandparents the day before. Legume sat bemused in her high chair and ate her cake. She enjoyed her gifts, particularly the cheap $2 wind-up duck she chose for herself at the toy store. Two-year olds are easily impressed.
She is sleeping now, my little girl. I’ve been denying it, but my baby walked away from me months ago. When I wasn’t looking, a little girl took her place.
Hi there, big little girl Legume.