LATER this summer, Sonny Jim will be flying to the south of France to attend a family wedding.
My second cousin once removed (or is it third cousin?!) is getting married and while I HATE flying and am dreading the 4am taxi with toddler in tow, I really wanted us to go.
This cousin was one of my best playmates when I was little. There’s just six weeks between us, and a mere couple of years between us and her older sister, and almost all of my favourite childhood memories feature them in some way or another.
We didn’t live especially close (me on Canvey, them in Goodmayes) but every school holiday we could be found at each other’s houses.
Trips to the beach, building dens, eating takeaway fish and chips (why was it always fish and chips?!) were what formed the tapestry of my early years.
Now we all have little ones. My Sonny Jim and the bride-to-be’s lad Fred are both toddlers, just six months apart in age. Throw into the mix her eldest Elsie (five) along with fellow cousins Poppy (also two) and Lyra (not one yet) and you’ve got a proper contingent of cousins. (What is the collective noun for cousins, does anyone know? A cuddle? A cackle? Anyway…)
We still don’t live especially close (spread between Leigh, Shenfield and Felsted nowadays) and I’ve managed to meet up with them just a handful of times since becoming a mummy.
But this wedding weekend is a chance for not just us to catch up and celebrate, but for the next generation of cousins to play together.
And I think that’s so important. If we’re lucky, cousins are often our first friends. They share birthday parties, hand-me-downs and secrets. They know the family dynamics, the jokes, the stories. And I can’t wait to raise a glass to the newlyweds, while our children all start to make their own family memories.