I am 33% better at Scrabble than my cousins. They are 33% prettier than me. These things tend to balance themselves out. Sometimes, life is fair.

I think I just committed a small faux paux. Fox Pox? What? I don’t know. I invited some of my lady cousins – ages 12 to 18 – to play a game of Scrabble with me. We’re at the beach, all parents are playing poker, there’s lots of popcorn and white wine, and a brand new scrabble board.

NO. I did not give them the white wine. Which, btw, they have no interest in as they are inclined to read Christian Romance Novels. But on the real legit legit, they are awesome. My lady cousins. I like them.

So we play scrabble, and none of them really know how to play. And I can’t lie, friends, I feel like I took it too seriously. Because as of late, I have been playing it frequently with Steve. Steve is inclined to play elaborate, unexpected words like ‘Panda’ and ‘Gaylord’ and ‘Qat.’ And some other words that mean things like samurai swords and Egyptian grass or strange words for small sticks. People, he is real good, and he has made me better at it. Thanks, the Steve.

So when my twelve year old cousin wanted to spell lice as ‘lise’, or when her sister Bessie insisted Quive was a word – should I not have let this slide? It is just a game, after all, and they are cute, and we see each other once a year.

But is it not our DUTY to instruct new Scrabble players in the way of the game, to save them later embarrassment? Or should I just have kept my mouth shut?

Earlier today, when we were all packing up and leaving the beach, my big cousin Kathryn (two years old, now with two kids) blatantly picked up my brand new bottle of tanning lotion (innocently) thinking it was hers, and put it in her bag. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t bring myself to say anything. I thought somehow that she deserved it.

Straying for one more moment from the topic at hand – I was charged this afternoon with the making of our family tree, since I am the ‘artist’ of the family. So I got to work with some poster board and serious sharpies – but only after I fought to convince my grandma that the illegimate children and their unmarried parents belonged in the tree, too. My Dad suggested that we make some sort of Key, and that all the Bastards be written in a special font.

Straying a bit further, FOUR cousins thusfar on the trip have asked me ‘if I brought my bowl.’ Um. I have never smoked with any of these people. Nor I am inclined to travel on a plane with a bowl. But there is something about me that radiates ‘stoner’ or ‘person who flies on plane with bowl’ or ‘generally cool person who one can talk to about pot.’ I think I’m flattered. But I’m not sure.

I will close with something that has absolutely nothing to do with scrabble, illegitimacy, or pipes: my youngest cousin, Petra: age 5: and the in depth conversation we had today.

She’s got the fattest cheeks, and today donned a pink gingham dress, french braids and pink ballet slippers. Imagine this, please. She had not yet talked to me the entire trip, but suddenly this evening, she just parked herself in my lap.

Petra: ‘Hi.’

Me: Uh – hey! What’s up – you?’

Petra: I am NOT excited about starting kindergarten.’

Me: Oh – why not?

Petra: Because I want to stay with my Mommy and be little forever.

Me: Oh – well – I’m 25 and I still feel little. And kindergarden is REALLY COOL. You get to play outside and color and make friends and –

Petra: I’m not going to know anything and the teacher is going to get MAD at me.

Me: If she gets mad at you, I’ll get mad at her.

Blank stare.

Petra: I want ice cream. Who are you again?

And then she was gone.

I’m really good with kids.

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