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Cousin crew

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FAMILY TIME Ashley and Chip Cavanaugh’s daughters, Greer and Annie, have nine first cousins, ranging in age from 6 months to 12 years – Finn, Henry, and David and Luke Anderson; Piper, Walker, and Leigh Anderson; Cavan and Aidan Saccone; and Molly Cavanaugh. Pictured are some of the cousins with Santa: Finn, David, Annie, Luke, Greer, and Henry.

Buzz Baby is a column about life with little ones. Writer Annie McQueen is a mother of four children under the age of 8.

In the waiting room at Texas Children’s Hospital, the Clark family awaited the arrival of the newest member of their “Clark crazy cousin crew” as they call it. The parents of the baby opted to keep the gender unknown until birth.

In anticipation, the group of 12 cousins all wore matching pink or blue T-shirts (based on their prediction) that read “big cousin” on the front, and the parents had a pink and blue onesie that read across the front “new to the cousin crew” for a big group photo. “We have done this with every birth in the family,” said the mom, who opted to remain anonymous. They ordered the shirts on Amazon.

“It is our cousin tradition, and we can reuse the T-shirts and cycle around the pink and blue as the kids change their predictions for each birth,” said the mom.

The first cousins, spread out across the waiting room, ranged in age from 6 months to age 12. The toddlers played with trucks on the waiting room floor as the older cousin held the baby cousin. Later that day, the newest cousin – a baby girl – arrived.

This scene reminded me a bit of my own family. Together, among the adult siblings, our family has 15 first cousins. Every November, we take our annual cousin trip to the pumpkin patch at Dewberry Farm. Some of the older cousins are in college, so this farm trip usually ends up being the “little” cousins – who range in age from 2 to 13.

In 2018, we started a tradition to line up the kids, from youngest to oldest, on a giant swing at Dewberry. Someone acts as the photographer, and someone acts as “the clown” as we call it to get the kids’ attention to look at the camera and smile. Each year, as the cousins get older, we can compare the photos and memories made within the year. We print the photo to put side by side in our houses. It is neat to see the changes over the years.

My twins, Cash and Lila, who are now 8, were born eight weeks to the day after their first cousin, Wyatt. Wyatt is the third child in his family, but my twins were the firstborn. The dynamic of the “triplets” as we jokingly call them was rock solid from the start. When they were toddlers attending their first school experience at a Mother’s Day Out program, they were in the same class.

As a slightly nervous first-time parent, I ventured to the school’s “Meet the Teacher” with my twins. They were not 2 yet, and it was such a comfort to have my own sister, Wyatt’s mom, there with him, as the three met their teacher together.

Our kids constantly beg to see their cousins. When they are together, they run around and play – and even as the older cousins start to grow apart from childhood games when they are with their little cousins, age does not matter one bit. They all take care of one another.

Parents Ashley and Chip Cavanaugh have two daughters, Greer, 5, and Annie, 3. Annie and Greer have nine first cousins in total, ranging in age from 6 months to 12 years. They are always around their cousins, doing family things.

“I love that my girls get to grow up with all of their cousins in Houston as I did,” said Ashley. “It allows us to go to each other’s sports games, birthday parties, and other big events. We have been able to bring them up with some of the things we loved to do with our cousins, like spending time in Galveston and Lakeway.”

Ashley says her kids love to be around their cousins and she enjoys watching their bond strengthen. They have traveled together, like when they took a trip to Wyoming in the summer of 2021. “I hope my kids always consider their cousins as close friends, the way Chip and I do ours,” Ashley said. When they visit their family beach house in Galveston, Ashley says they like to rotate which room they spend the night in and with which cousin.

There are so many benefits to being raised in a cousin crew. One of the best parts is that cousins can grow up to be best friends – almost like siblings, but less annoying.

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