Cousins are a curious thing.
The May Queen's relationship with her cousin began long before she was born. In fact, it began the day that I called my brother and sister-in-law to tell them that we were expecting. My SIL said nothing for a while, then "Did your Mom tell you?" "Tell me what?" Another long pause, before I said "You're pregnant, too?!" Turns out we even had the same due date. And thus began the race to be the first grandchild.
The Cousin won that race, being born early, while The May Queen hunkered down for another two weeks in my womb (there's a story for another day...)
They are both blond hair, blue eyed cuties who have been mistaken for twins, although not so much now as they are getting older. We spent their infancy comparing (if only silently to ourselves) how quickly they rolled, walked, talked, ate, etc.
They only get to see each other once or twice a year, as The Cousin lives in Michigan, and The May Queen in Louisiana (and before that, California). They love each other, in that weird childhood way of barely knowing each other but knowing that they are related. They are very excited to get to see each other, probably because we build up the idea to them.
Today they spent the day together at the beach, and I wonder if this is what sibling rivalry is like. The May Queen has to be first at everything, and will pull little tricks to try to make this happen, and then smirk when she wins (even if no one is playing along... she does this with EVERYONE) She is clearly more of a leader and take charge gal. The Cousin, on the other hand, is very sensitive, and will easily cry at every perceived injustice, real or not. They lobby for Oma's attention (Oma is my mother, it's German for Grandma) as if getting to sit by Oma at the picnic table were the equivilent of being invited to Cinderella's ball. They fight over how they might be able to, or not able to, share the books on the car ride home, WHEN WE ARE NOT EVEN ANYWHERE NEAR TO GETTING IN THE CAR. It feels like a constant struggle for us adults to keep the peace.
The Cousin very sweetly shared her puppy dog with May Queen in the car. And when The Cousin felt worried about slipping on the walks in the water, the more sure footed May Queen took her hand and led her to shore. And later at home the two girls were giggling over a puzzle together as if they were the best of friends.
I will probably never have to navigate the waters of siblings from my parental role, but I imagine this must be what it is like. Just when you are at the end of your referee rope, they join the same team. At least for a few minutes.