A few years ago, Third Niece asked me about the difference between first and second cousins and what the heck could first cousins "once removed" or "twice removed" or whatever possibly mean?
This was something I was unclear about myself so I went out wandering in the wilds of the internet and found a site that explained it concisely and even had a handy-dandy chart that did not make me want to bang my head against my desk. (I'm somewhat chart averse.) Predictably, I have never been able to find that site again--even though I've spent a good hour or so today looking for it.
With the birth of First Granddaughter last fall coming a week before the birth of Fourth Nephew, and lots of other assorted cousins and aunts and uncles around, all these connections have been much on our minds every time any particular group of us gathers in the same room. Here is the simplest way I've been able to boil down my multiple website search of the subject:
A first cousin is someone with whom you share a grandparent.
A second cousin is someone with whom you share a great-grandparent. (Your grandparents are siblings, in other words. A second cousin is the grandchild of your great aunt or great uncle.)
A third cousin is someone with whom you share a great-great-grandparent. (Your great grandparents are siblings, your grandparents are cousins, and your parents are second cousins.)
And so on...
When it comes to "removals," this refers not to death or divorce or disinheritance (as Third Niece suspected when she was eleven), but to the number of generations between degrees of cousin. For instance, my father's cousin is my first cousin once removed and she is my children's first cousin twice removed. My father's cousin's children are my second cousins and they are my children's second cousins once removed. My father's cousin's children's children would be my children's third cousins, but my second cousins once removed.*
It all seems relatively simple when I'm typing it out on the computer screen in my quiet office. Trying to explain it out loud while some of these cousins and second cousins and first cousins once removed are scrambling under foot and darting in and out of the conversation is a much more difficult thing--and I love every minute of it.
K is for Kin
*Uh, I think.
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