Learning to let go as stewards of God's children

Originally Appeared in : 9915-7/18/19

Noah is growing up. Please don’t tell his mother, unless you have a lot of tissues. 


When he got back his SAT results (1,370), there was a sense of pride but also a sense of inevitability. Again, please don’t bring this up. When Magan connected the dots that SAT=College=Noah not home, her eyebrows furrowed faster than I’d ever seen before...and I’ve seen them furrow pretty quickly over the past 12 years.


The test scores became less of a focal point, as a pair of packed unmatched luggage from the bargain outlet became a focal point in our foyer. Noah had earned one of two slots to visit Washington D.C. for a week, the longest time he had ever spent away from home (beating the previous record set by Vocations Camp four years ago).


Everyone was excited for Noah, who would occasionally ramble off facts about the Smithsonian, or the long days he’d be spending touring our nation’s capital.


Noah’s sendoff was a formal affair, requiring me to wear a blazer usually reserved for certain Holy Days and, with only seating for Magan, Noah and me, it meant the rest of our crowd was forced to stay home with their Nannie.


As the fancy dinner concluded, Magan and I moved in for hugs (not too big, though, because he’s a teenager and, well, you know how that is), and gave reminders to be safe and have fun before we headed back home sans our oldest child.


Magan and I talked the whole way home about his trip, and how proud we were but how much we were going to miss having him around the house.


Little did we know, we wouldn’t be the ones who missed him the most.


A few days into Noah’s away-cation, Eli just started to tear up.


“What’s the matter, baby?” Magan asked.


“I just miss Noah,” Eli replied.


On the other end of the spectrum Simon, who is rarely silent (even in his sleep), was sullen, sulky and any other kind of morose, which also did not help his overall behavior.


“He’s just lonesome,” Magan said, in a call for leniency from the court during sentencing. “He misses Noah. That’s his best friend.”
Even Ruthie, whose best verbalization is “NAH-NAH” for Noah, kept glancing from one side of her high chair to the other in search of her long-lost biggest brother.


Everyone received updates from Magan, who relayed occasional text messages or brief morning phone calls to highlight stops at the (Insert landmark here), or to mention the host of souvenirs (mostly parchment copies of the Declaration of Independence and blank scrolls and ink wells; I think we’re building our own Freedom Shrine in the hallway).


Finally, the day had arrived to venture up to Hartsfield-Jackson airport and reacquire our oldest son. I tried to temper everyone’s excitement with, “Now guys, he’s going to be tired, and we shouldn’t overwhelm him.”


Apparently my words didn’t rise above Mr. Incredible playing on the iPad behind me because, sure enough, as soon as Noah opened the back gate to throw his unmatched luggage back in the van, every single mouth under the age of 12 opened simultaneously and began uttering declarative, imperative, exclamatory and interrogative sentences like some sort of CIA torture device.


“Guys, guys,” I said. “Let’s let him get in the car.”


That only quelled the cacophony briefly.


A fill-up at the Old Country Store was all it took to send Noah nap-ward to catch up on the sleep lost from 17-hour days touring D.C., but that still didn’t stop Jesse and Eli from trying to initiate conversations with their dog-tired brethren.


While the trip was Noah’s to take and enjoy, he spent most of his petty cash on everyone else who stayed behind in Dublin.


This was a dry-run for an eventuality that Magan would rather not talk about. Like ever. Like, I should probably have never started writing this to save myself from another set of furrowed brows, or worse, tears.


The reality is, however, Noah will be a high school senior this year and, this time next year, he’ll begin doing a different sort of packing of the long-term variety. While he’s planning to study Mechanical Engineering at my alma mater in Statesboro, or in Atlanta with the Ramblin’ Wreck, which Magan reminds me is “only a two-hour drive we could make regularly,” next year will mark a natural transition for our family.


As parents, we must realize that we don’t possess our children, we’re merely stewards for one of God’s greatest blessings. Hopefully, if we did our job well, Noah will heed the words in Proverbs 1:8-9 and, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.”


If we follow God’s example, giving up our children to the world is a natural part of their spiritual growth that could ultimately change the world for the better.


But let’s not talk about it anymore. We have 13 months until he leaves, and I’m already feeling those furrowed brows over my shoulder.


Jason Halcombe has five sons and two daughters. He and his wife, Magan, are members of Immaculate Conception Church, Dublin.

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