The Cousins

Today Alex and I went to a neighbor’s pool with my cousin Paige, her hubby, their little boy, my cousin B. and his two girls. Paige, B. and I grew up together, so we have spent MANY an afternoon in the water over the last thirty-something years. I guess that’s why watching our kids together this afternoon was one of those odd, full-circle, gosh-I’m-getting-older-but-I-don’t-mind-it-so-much-because-this-is-pretty-cool moments that makes me want to sing some sort of Michael W. Smith song about cousins, cannonballs, and pools.

Assuming that he’s ever written a song that covered those particular topics.

Which, now that I think about it, is highly unlikely.

But if he had written a song that covered those particular topics, I would have TOTALLY been singing it today.

Because honestly, the kids were so much fun that it made me a little teary-eyed. Paige’s little boy is about 18 months old now, and one of the best parts of the afternoon – at least for me – was watching Paige and her husband watch him. He is absolutely adorable, and they are smitten. Every child should be so loved.

Since I am a wee bit fair-skinned, we didn’t hit the pool until the sun was low enough in the sky that being poolside DIDN’T REQUIRE ME TO WEAR A PROTECTIVE SLEEVE, and the little man and I had an absolute blast. We stayed in the water for over two hours, and we probably would have stayed until dark if supper hadn’t beckoned.

But supper was fried chicken. And nothing beckons me like fried chicken. I believe this fact has been well-established, and it should not surprise you.

So when we were sufficiently waterlogged, we walked over to my aunt’s house and ate supper in her backyard. I am typically not a person who enjoys eating in the out of doors because, well, BUGS, but tonight was perfect. There was the aforementioned fried chicken, and in true Southern fashion, we had two different kinds of potatoes (French fries and potato salad), plus onion rings, rice and biscuits.

Because here is something I want you to always remember and never, ever forget: if one starch is good, then five starches are, well, PERFECTION. The only thing that would have made those side dishes any better is if there had been a batch of hush puppies thrown in. And maybe some fried okra.

And maybe some fried dill pickles, too, but I’ll stop now because if I keep going I’ll find myself setting up a FryDaddy in Mama’s kitchen at 2 in the morning and she’ll wake up and be all, “What in the sam hill are you doing?” and I’ll be all, “SEEING WHAT I CAN DEEP FRY,” and she’ll be all, “Oh, well, wake me up again if you fix somethin’ good.”

After supper all the children ran around in the backyard, weaving in and around my aunt’s daylily beds while the rest of us visited. We talked about everything and nothing, and we laughed until we wheezed when B. told an old story about riding horses with my brother. I wished that the rest of our family was there – especially Sister, who remembers all the funny stories the rest of us forget – but we did the best we could without them. And once the sun set, we put down the sweet tea, rounded up the tired young’uns and headed back home.

Alex is sound asleep now, with a Lightning McQueen car clutched in his right hand and a stuffed green frog by his side. And I know it’s sentimental, but I really can’t help but hope that, in about thirty years, he’ll find himself right where I was tonight: sitting with cousins, eating fried chicken, and watching the next generation of our family play with leaves and brooms and umbrellas under a clear Southern sky.

Because life just doesn’t get much better – or sweeter – than that.

This much I know for sure.

The end.

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  1. From your lips to God’s ears.

    So let it be written, so let it be done. Amen.



  2. Perfect.

  3. Christine says:

    Amen sister. Sounds liek a perfect evening. That family time is just the stuff this life is all about.

    I didn’t grow up near my cousins and they are all older than I. But we still manage to be pretty close and we’re all meeting at the Outer Banks this summer. I think there will be about 23 of us between our moms, spouses and kids. The wheezing laughter will abound and I can’t wait!

  4. sweettttt – and not just the tea!

  5. This makes me cry. Not the five starches, but your son, there with all of the cousins, and the way family keeps going that way. Or at least, it should.

  6. Speaking of deep frying things, have you tried fried oreos. Oh. My. Word.

    Dip an oreo (or a few dozen) in pancake batter, deep fry in oil until golden brown, drain on paper towel, dust with a little powdered sugar and you have deep fried heaven, my friend!

  7. Precious!

  8. What a fun evening! My best friend from college just moved near me and we’ve been having some similar times watching our kids together. You are right. There is nothing like it!!!

    God Bless you!!

  9. That was a great day indeed! Call me when you make something good too. I’ve a hankerin’ for some good old Southern food now…

    Now that you’ve got all those contacts in Nashville, I think you could persuade someone to write that song and set it to a catchy, groovin’ tune. I’m picturing Brad Paisley, but MWS would be good too.

  10. perfectly perfect description of a picture perfect family moment. A Norman Rockwell moment for sure.
    Isn’t family sweet?

  11. That’s how it is with J’s family. I love it. There’s always someone to talk with.

  12. Aren’t cousins the very best. I have many and love to see all of them.

  13. Honey, I’ll bring the fried green tomatoes and be right over! Oh, and the ice cream freezer.

    Grew up in Birmingham and family still lives there so I know where you’re comin’ from! Are the lightning bugs out yet?

  14. What a beautiful post. I have a best friend with whom I get to share such full circle moment – and almost every time, it chokes me with the sweetness and rightness and holiness of it all. I feel God’s kisses and hugs when I see our girls giggling together over dolls and snuggling together in sleeping bags on the floor.

    And fried chicken? Girl, what was a teensy little urge last night is turning into a full-blown craving now, thanks to you! Is it wrong to eat fried chicken at 8:20 a.m.????

  15. You have a brother??? Have you been holding out on us?? Or did I just miss a post or ten?

    I’m with you on eating outside…I simply DON’T do it. It’s not at all convenient either. Even if you just take your plate outside, you have to go back in to replenish or to get the ketchup you forgot…or the salt…and if you DO bring the whole kitchen outside, what a major pain THAT is! But really it’s the bugs and the wind and the pollen and dust floating around…and the scary bird that flies overhead taking no notice of his ‘aim’.

    I’m very glad your experience went so well and that your son has such a close family and will have such wonderful memories.

  16. Oh.My.Word. Your post made me downright nostalgic. Spent a lot of time with various cousins while growing up, even though we lived states apart. We’d do a kind of round-robin thing with all the cousins hopping around and back and forth to each others’ homes every summer. Took a few very memorable vacations with cousins too. *sigh*
    My son recently mentioned that he and his wife might be going camping with some of his cousins this summer and I thought “How cool is that?!” Hubby is one of five and the offspring of three of those now live in Indiana and are starting to do more together. As adults. Very cool indeed!

  17. That sounds like the PERFECT evening (so fun to read). Maybe I will give a few of my cousins a call…

  18. Loved this post!

  19. Total sweetness.

  20. Yup..every once in a while I’ll catch myself thinking the same thing, and hoping my kids will have moments with their kids, like I have had with them.

  21. That sounds perfect.

  22. We have those sort of gatherings and they revolve around fried fish or dead deer, depending on the season. It’s great to see my son playing with my cousins children and even grandchildren. It gives children such a sense of who they are when they spend time with all generations of their family.

  23. I just want to go find a cousin and hug.

    I come from a long line of extended family grief. Sad, but true.

    I ran into a long lost cousin the other day at Target. We stood in the shoe aisle and talked for an hour. Our children met and ran the aisles. It was a perfect day.

    We’ve gotten together three times since then. We decided it wasn’t our fault our families were screwed up.

    I’m glad we decided that.

  24. Thanks for sharing. That was so sweet. I have fond memories of sitting with my grandparents outside eating watermelon.

  25. That sounds like perfection. Thank you for sharing with us.

    And now I’m homesick.

  26. I’m hungry. And you know…I like food.

  27. Here’s a little BooMama summer song-a-la-MWS for you!

    And canonballs are forever when the cousins are at the pool.
    And to carbs we’ll not say never, ’cause fried chicken makes us drool.
    Though it’s hard to let them go, in Father’s hands we know
    that our kids will grow up to, by the pool.

  28. I don’t know what I was going to say because I am fascinated that Tamara actually composed a song to the tune of Friends Are Friends.

    Beautiful post, my friend.

  29. mmmmmm! hush puppies!

  30. Growing up with cousins is a special thing. I’m still close with my cousins. We visit regularly and our kids have a blast. There is nothing, NOTHING more wonderful than having family close, a big plate of fried chicken and the sweet smell of spring on a Southern night.
    From one Southern Girl to another. Enjoy!

  31. Cindy O. says:

    Amen and Amen!

  32. I think deep down I was meant to be a southern girl, because I was totally drooling at all the carb-o-liciousness that was happening at your little shingdig. And I now want to know what a deep-fried pickle tastes like. Mmmmm, deep-fried.

  33. I love days like that. Sigh.

  34. If one starch is good, 5 is perfection?

    Hands to heaven with a big Amen, please. However, t.r.u.e. perfection would have to include some sort of melted cheese, wouldn’t it?


  35. Oh, BooMama! I know just what you mean! We just returned today from a trip to visit my cousins. We spent many days over our week long visit just watching all of our children playing together just as we did for so many years. Sweet, for sure.

  36. This is just about the most comforting, sweetest thing I’ve read in ages, and I’m serious – you should write a book, for petes sake.

  37. That was lovely….but how ’bout a post about Brother?

  38. I felt like I was there with you. *sniff* Beautiful!

  39. Okay, first of all, I do believe my Ben and your Alex are kindred spirits, as we also tend to sleep with a car and a stuffed green frog! Also, I thought of you just yesterday as I was reading through Robert St. John’s cookbook, Deep South Staples. This is what he has to say about the fried chicken: “In my South, fried chicken is a religion with its own denomination.” I can just hear you shouting an “amen” to that, Soph!

  40. I remember those summers! It makes me a little sad that my son won’t have the same experiences because our families are so scattered.

    Fortunately, the house we bought has turned out to be in a really great neighborhood. Several of kiddo’s classmates live in the complex and we have two great families on our street. We voted in Driveway Happy Hour today.

    If someone could start a lightning bug population in So Cal, I’d be a truly happy camper.

  41. You spin a great tale-Boo Mama! I too am smitten with my girl babies. One of my favorite things to do as a Mom-because there are some not so favorite parts, is watching something I’ve seen hundreds of times through their shining eyes for the first time! Santa Claus, a puppy and fireworks are my personal favorites!

    What no watermelon? Spittin seeds with cousins is a Southern summertime EVENT!

    Blessings to you,

  42. I was gonna comment on the post until I passed the fried Oreo recipe on my way down to the comment box. And now I’m just sitting here with my mouth hanging open and wondering how early is too early for a fried Oreo. Since it involves pancake batter, does it count as breakfast food?

    Also, FriedOkra woulda been more’n happy to be at your little chickenfest last night. And Bean, too.

  43. YOU, my dear, are making me very homesick.

  44. What a beautiful post.

  45. First of all, YUUMMMM on your fried chicken and 5 starch sides. And double YUUMMM on the hush puppies and fried okra! Did you know hushpuppies make a great meal all of their own? Um, that’s what I heard anyway… I always have much more balanced, um, meals. Uh huh.

    Second, you make me want to round up my family and have a weekend together, all squished in my little house. The more squished the better, right? Perfectly sentimental post.

    Thanks. =0)

  46. I have been reading for a while and waiting for the perfect time to comment and THIS IS IT!! LOVED this post! My hubby and I are raising our son (and prayerfully one more child soon) here in the same town with his “cousins” and we have so many nights just like the one you wrote about. True blessings from God! I love your writing and am so blessed by your blog! Thanks, Boo!
    P.S. TOTALLY agree about the starches, by the way. You definitely needed some fried okra!

  47. This is the kind of post that gives me hope- being an only child with no aunts or uncles, but with two kids who adore each other, I hope that one day this is the kindof life they choose with each other!

    It was beautiful.

  48. So true – time flies and comes full circle before we know it
    I love the conversation you had in your head about the 2 am fry session – LOL
    So funny!

  49. My family was just WAY too disfunctional for fried chicken. Count yourself extra special blessed, my dear!

  50. Whenever there is a long, funny email thread bouncing back and forth between my brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, my husband and myself, I think forward to how some day all of our children – 6.5 and not done – will someday be bouncing emails around about us. And it makes me smile. Until I figure they will probably all be discussing how if they put us all in the same retirement homes they can get a discount rate.