I have the greatest cousins. I am the oldest child to the oldest sister of the Heile family so I have eleven years over my eldest cousin. Then it gradually increases in years up to 25 or so. We all have our idiosyncracies and varied beliefs and traditions but despite all of this, most of us are pretty tight knit, especially the gals. Laura, my oldest cousin and Maggie, born five or so years later, have both graced Jon and I with their presence in Columbus at some time over the last few years. Laura lived up here for a couple of years and Maggie lived up here throughout college and now during grad school.
Laura is forthright and imperturbable. She can party like a LA girl but can also sit around the house all afternoon play fighting with Mario or braiding Maria’s hair. She has an answer to any question. I can ask a question about a kind of plant and she will chime in with a quick answer and then ask about how to handle an ice cream brain freeze and she is just as quick with a response. I envy her straight-forwardness and ability to tell it like it is. I have always tread away from correcting people when they are wrong about something, e.g., Person: “George Bush was a democrat.” Me: “Really? Ok.” Conversation continues. I feel like any correction – even if it would benefit the person in the end – would be taken too harshly so I avoid it. A trait I want to work on because I know the value of constructive feedback. On the other hand, if someone told Laura that Bush was a democrat, she would not hesitate to tell that someone that Bush was a republican. On the same note, I know I can go to Laura for a straight answer if I just got my hair done and I am hesitant about whether it looks whacked or not. She will tell me straight up I need to head back to the salon.
Maggie is a good-hearted, all-american college gal. She is a lot like her mama, my Aunt Julie. She has the same mannerisms (e.g., biting her cheek and nails) and traditions (e.g., smacking your butt really hard in jest). She does not take any grief from Maria or Mario – if they give her lip, she addresses it. If they hit, she disciplines. If they ask her to get them something, she tells them to walk over themselves. Give these kids of mine a week with her and they would be whooped into shape. But she also shows them love and tenderness and has taught Maria a very important fact about boys. “Always date someone who is also your friend.” Maria took that one to heart.
Laura and Maggie came by on Saturday after their night out on campus and we went to the pool. Maria got to show off jumping off the high dive and Mario got to show off by doing power rangers’ moves off the low dive. Maria hung with her girl cousins and role models while I made sure Mario kept his paws off the girls at the low dive (he tried to squeeze them). Laura and Maggie had a diving board contest during adult swim with Maria rating their jumps – I think Maggie pulled it out. When we got home, Laura braided Maria’s hair in the cutest style ever. Maria looked like a young teen model – scary. They also spiked Mario’s hair up to the sky, which he loved. We walked to the yogurt shop for some yummy dessert and watched Maria do her runway catwalks for us. She loved the attention and time with them.
I missed them when they left Saturday evening. I love their influence on the kids, especially Maria. And I love the girl power they bring with them when we are together.