Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Only Child

At the dentists' office yesterday, the hygienist asked Kira if she was the oldest kid in her family.

"No" she said--which surprised me.

"Are you the youngest?" asked the hygienist.

"No," said Kira. "I'm the oldest of the youngest."

By now, I was thoroughly confused. I am quite sure that Kira does not have an younger siblings. But then Kira made everything clear:

"Ethan is the oldest" she said "he's twelve." Ethan is Kira's oldest first cousin. She has two first cousins younger than her: since she's in kindergarten and other cousins are in school all day, she probably plays with the youngest two most frequently, reinforcing her sense of being the oldest of the youngest.

I think it's a great tribute to George and Sandra, my parents-in-law, that Kira thinks of all her cousins as being the "kids in her family." Strong extended families are becoming rare in America, and it's nice to be part of families on both sides (mine and my wife's) which have maintained a sense of extended family identity.

I hope we'll be able to maintain Kira's strong sense of connection to her cousins even after we move away from this area. I believe there's a strength in ties like that.


  1. In Hindi and Punjabi, the words for "cousin" all include the word for "brother" or "sister." This probably is because close extended families like my grandfather's fostered close cousin relationships.

  2. Alas, I've always been jealous of families with close extended families. I'm not close to any of my cousins, and I've always regretted that.

  3. When I was younger, we used to come back to Idaho every summer or every other summer. In between trips we would often go and see our cousins who lived closer to us (wherever we were living at the time--my family moved fairly frequently).

    We played with our cousins and knew them well. However, now that we're older it seems those ties have grown weaker. Instead of gathering with cousins, we gather with brothers and sisters.

    I'm curious whether you've seen anything similar in your family. Do you spend much time with cousins your own age?

  4. Our extended family has a reunion every three years or so, and everyone is happy to see everyone else. I feel that we do a pretty good job of keeping up with cousins, aunts, and uncles in between these as well. It helps to have things like cell phones and skype. Our extended family is still very close, although we are just beginning to branch out more as siblings, starting our own families and lives. So we'll have to see as time goes on. We do talk to other siblings regularly, almost once a week.


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