Second Cousin, Once Removed

On Wednesday, my cousin Christle delivered her first baby, Dylan. In my family, and in my circle of friends, it’s been a year full of babies. My boss’s daughter was born in the spring, Mort’s son arrived this summer, and now, here is my cousin bringing her own bundle of joy into the world. I shudder to think what these last few months would have been like for us if we hadn’t found success with our first IVF cycle. I’d like to believe that we would have been happy for everyone without any reservations, and while Stephanie may have been able to do just that, I think I would have found less success in putting on a happy face.

So, let’s thank our lucky stars that we’re pregnant, too.

Dylan’s arrival also got me thinking about that perennial family history question: how exactly are we related? What do you call the child of your cousin? Or, in this case, your second cousin? And what in the hell do all of these firsts, seconds, and once removeds mean?

I’ve written about this before, but I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t revisit the topic.

The number preceding the word cousin refers to the number of generations two people must look back beyond their parents to find a common ancestor. First cousins share a grandparent, second cousins share a great-grandparent, and so on, and so forth.

The number following the word cousin is used in situations where two people share a common ancestor but are not of the same generation. That is, the common ancestor is one person’s grandparent and the other person’s great-grandparent. My Mom’s first cousin (Auntie Lil is an example) is my first cousin, once removed. My first cousin’s son or daughter is also my first cousin, once removed.

You with me? Okay, good.

So, what does that make Dylan. I was pretty sure I knew, but even I have to use a program to check myself. Christle and I share a great-grandparent, which makes us second cousins. Dylan, as Christle’s son, is therefore my second cousin, once removed.

What will he call me? Probably Uncle Chris, just as John and I called Auntie Lil our aunt, even though she was our first cousin, once removed. You gotta keep things simple, after all. Because, in the end, who can remember all of this crap?

In any event, I couldn’t be more excited about the arrival of the newest member of our extended family. Welcome to the world, Dylan. I promise that not everyone in your family is as crazy as me.

Some, I’m sorry to say, are far crazier.