Cassie Eckert - Grade 9, Alter High School
Caring for Cousins
From the time we are children, we are told that we can be anything we want to be. Conversely, I have discovered that some things you do not want to be you still have to be, including a big sister and cousin. I was the first grandchild on both sides of my family, which means that at family gatherings I often am charged with entertaining my younger cousins. Sometimes, it can feel like an exhausting chore to be stuck at the kid''s table, but it has primarily been very rewarding and simply fun. Over the summer, at my week-long family reunion, I was a self-appointed babysitter in the evenings so the adults could catch up without worrying about little nieces and nephews. Throughout the week, I helped my younger cousins with everything from deciding what game to play to cleaning up afterward. I enjoyed every minute spent caring for them. Whether I was helping monitor a soccer game in the backyard or leading a safari in the basement, the children’s enthusiasm and joy were contagious! I love each of them, so helping out was not a burden but a privilege, which completely changed my attitude about the joys of cleaning spilled popcorn. Because I was having fun playing with my cousins, little chores that seemed burdensome before turned into cheerful games. Every moment spent watching my cousins was so wonderful. They have infected me with a genuine excitement for life and positive attitude that lasts long after we part ways. But perhaps the most rewarding part of playing the role of the babysitter was when all the kids insisted on sitting next to me at meals. They had come to trust and rely on me to solve their squabbles and retie their shoes. The feeling of knowing that you are wanted and needed is so fulfilling; it was like all the children’s simple love and happiness had filled me up, as cheesy as it sounds. I genuinely hope that I was able to give back to them a fraction of the delight they gave me. I know that even though I was in charge of my little cousins, I was never just their older cousin or babysitter; I was their friend and they were my friends. That week taught me so much about leadership and my responsibility to be a good role model. I also believe that all the kids learned something from me: that getting along and helping one another is always the best way to make sure everyone wins and has fun because lending a hand is not a chore, it is a wonderful privilege.