Was I spoiled as a child, the youngest of 18 cousins, 8 aunts and 8 uncles, Grandma Jones and step-grandma Bradley? Sure, absolutely, joyfully.
But I was also sheltered--both in a way that protects and a way that hinders.
When I was 12 or so, I asked my mother why I had to go visit relatives with them every time. I was old enough to stay home by myself, after all, and all the relative visits didn't interest me.
Here's what she told me--I swear to God, cross my heart--"what if we had a car wreck and died," she told me, "we wouldn't want you to be left alone."
Which meant, as I pondered it, it would be somehow better if we all died together.
That is 'too sheltered' in my mind and heart.
Soon after that I exerted myself for what may have been the first major time and only went to visit the people I wanted to see. I stayed home other times and played video games.
Well, of course I didn't do that. I stayed home and played with my toy soldiers or watched TV or, mostly, read.
Being an only child of older parents isn't always a cup of tea.
When I was a small child another cousin (which I realize I didn't count before since he was the son of my long dead aunt--my father's older sister) lived with my parents and me. His name was Pat LaFon and he was so much older than me I never thought of him as a cousin. He became a Nazarene minister, but was in his 20's when I was a child and he lived with us.
When he moved out I got his room. It was always called "Pat's room", even after I'd lived in it for years.
As safe and wondrous and loved as I was, I slept in "Pat's room" until I went to college.
That strikes me as weird in a way I can't explain.
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