When I was young, I could hardly wait to visit my favorite cousins. Going to their home was always a special thing for us because any visit there promised lots of fun.
That they were older made a visit even more delightful; I marveled at their belongings; the girls’ metal baby carriages – one pink, one blue – and the little metal toy turtle whose head bobbed up and down rather slowly and mysteriously. The toy could always be found on the bedroom window sill. For some reason, that little tin turtle absolutely fascinated me!
So, too, did the pretty party dresses that the girls wore at these Sunday gatherings. I mentally inventoried each one, knowing full well that the day would come when the girls would outgrow them and Auntie would send them home with Daddy; then, it would be my turn and I’d be the lucky cousin wearing another familiar but very desirable, party dress!
After each visit, we’d say goodbye with hugs and kisses on two cheeks, and then we’d climb in the car for the trip home. Sometimes it was very late and my sister and I would fall asleep in the back seat. Repeatedly, I would struggle to stay awake. Repeatedly, the conversation in the front seat was the same. My folks were praising my aunt and uncle for the great job they had done in raising the two boys and girls; all four children were very polite and well-behaved; as Mom would describe, “so cute” and “so helpful around the house”, this latter appraisal was a biggie. Since it was repeated more than once in our presence, I picked up rather quickly that it might not hurt to imitate them; in fact, it might very well be an extremely good thing to do; I bet my other aunts and uncles were saying the same things, I thought…
Simple reasoning enough; I wanted praise as much as any child, so I strove to imitate my favorite cousins. In time, my admiration grew for them and lessened somewhat for their belongings, even the dresses. How could I not respect those dear idols of mine, especially upon hearing that if they refused to finish everything on their plates they’d be facing the same unfinished meal in the morning?