Laughing, giggling, teasing children and teenagers swept through the house once my daughter’s four children joined their trio of cousins.
“I knew it would be loud,” I said to my daughter.
Supper waited while the cousins joined forces to check out the house and each other. We live too far away for any of the seven to come often. A couple years ago, with the Covid-19 quarantine closing church camp, I held our first Cousin Camp.
We learned verses, played games and explored foods. They talked, laughed and made memories. The next year they visited in sets of two or three. This year, the seven youngest grandchildren had one night and day together. Six stayed longer. With children from six to almost sixteen years old, for that day, our sedate home for the elderly became a loud playground of kids.
It was the first time most had seen my revised hallway lined with their mugshots from school and family events. “Oh my word! Look at my picture. I look so goofy!”
“Grandma! Why did you put that picture of me up there?”
“Who is this with Oreos?” another asked looking at old picture.
“That’s Uncle Mert. He won a trip to Dallas for stacking Oreos the fastest.”
I pulled out Hamburger Helper for supper. Not a typical meal from our geriatric kitchen, but a quick, easy meal for the cousins.
Since I only cook “Take It or Leave It,” I served a sample to each child. All but one came back for seconds to eat with hearty slices of buttered French bread. Great quantities of food disappeared as the room echoed with young voices laughing and talking.
I sat silently watching and listening. No way I could keep up with the teen lingo and constant teasing.
It may be Cousin Camp, but they live by “Grandma’s rules” especially at the table. “No slouching over the food, hold your fork the right way, and no bathroom talk.”
“Remember when Grandma made me go outside and say the alphabet backwards because I …?” my now cool teenager laughed.
The first night half of them ended up in a five minute exile for breaking the last rule. With all the chatter emanating from their exile, I doubt they learned a thing.
The newest Grandma’s Rule caught all of them, “No electronics. No phones. You are here to visit with each other.”
The youngest, the one without any phone, came tattling, “They are on their phones. They are not supposed to have them.”
We rounded up a stack of phones. I put mine on silent, “If you want to read your phone, check the bookshelves.” I constantly buy books for kids.
My daughter stayed the first night. She came with dyes, t-shirts and the energy to direct making tie-dye t-shirts for Cousin Camp 2022. ”I can’t help all of you at once so the first here gets to do it first,” she yelled. They leaped up from their conversations and came a thundering like a herd for the table – now cleared of supper.
Afterwards, they settled into quieter conversations and activities.
“I have to take notes on how to take notes for history class,” the oldest from Little Rock complained.
“I had to write an email about writing an email,” the next oldest from St. Louis said.
The youngest of all found a beginner reading book and read to me until the clarion call of cousin fun pulled her away.
Long distant or next door, noisy or quiet, we commit to carving out time with family and accept that it will loud, messy, energetic and a lot of fun.