As I am the eldest child, I often looked to my tribe of cousins (there are approximately 25-30 first cousins on my Dad's side alone!) to play the role of older sibling. In particular, I looked to my cousin Albert, and more so, my cousin Michelle to be my big brother and big sister. While for the most part, I thought they adored me and the best little cousin a person could ever ask for, I later found out that they thought I was cute (of course) but still kind of a pain -- like a true little sister.
Benjamin is blessed with cousins as well. Certainly, not the overwhelming number I have, (I would be hard pressed to recall all of their names) but he does have three older boy cousins on Wally's side (I do know all of their names - Andrew, Peter and Timmy). However, as compared to a number of my cousins being so close in age, with Benjamin there is approximately 11 years difference with the youngest of our nephews. While I have the age ratio in my favor, Benjamin is blessed with three very special relationships with his cousins. This weekend, I got an opportunity to see first hand how incredible my nephews are with Benjamin, in particular, Timmy. Timmy has a natural gift for being with children. He knows how to relate to them and knows what they like. If Benjamin was belly laughing, it most probably had to do with something Timmy was showing or doing with him. Midway through the weekend, he was saying Timmy's name and looking for him when he wasn't there -- a true sign that Benjamin is very fond of someone. Wherever Timmy was Ben followed and unlike my cousins Timmy was always patient with Ben -- Timmy actually enjoyed the time they spent together. Andrew and Peter were incredibly dotting as well and were always on the look out for where Ben was making sure he remained safe and sound like great big brothers do.
As I know and Ben will know too, if you're lucky enough, a cousin could be the older sibling you will never have.