I call them the Asercion Decade Cousins, even though none of their last names is actually Asercion. They are the grandchildren, and great grandchild, of Mama Fe and Papa Paul.
For three decades, starting from 1983, a child was born to our collective family – three first cousins and one first cousin once removed.
Andrew, Ruthie and David’s eldest child, is the first of the Decade Cousins. Kristin, Miriam and Donald’s eldest, is ten years Andrew’s junior. Then came, Zechariah, Zee’s and my son, ten years younger than Kristin, and Jonah, Jayna and Stephen’s first born, ten years younger than Zechariah.
I know it’s redundant to use the words “ten years younger,” but it’s pretty neat how those births are spaced apart. Of course there are cousins who were born in between and after Jonah—just as important but not born at set intervals like the Decade Cousins.
I remember commenting to my siblings at a party back in 2012 how it would be nice if a baby were born to our family in 2013. Jayna was already expecting Jonah, but she and Stephen hadn’t yet made the announcement. Not only did Jonah add to the “train” but Mama Fe was able to experience the birth of the next generation.
When our kids are young, we mark the steps in the stages of their lives by the start of each new school year. And so we come to another first day of school. Zechariah just started the eleventh grade and Jonah the first grade.
Jonah had already gone to preschool and kindergarten. But he was still so little, and those school days were shortened. There came the realization at his kindergarten graduation, at least to me, that he was growing up. He and his classmates sang how they were ready to leave kindergarten and go on to first grade.
For the next twelve years, Jonah will be at school for the full day and will have wonderful learning adventures. He’ll be loved by his teachers and fellow students as they are blessed by his kindness and sweetness. And the teachers are in for a treat because Mommy Jayna will be one of the room mothers.
When it comes to growing up, I can’t stop Zechariah from doing it. He turned sixteen a little over two weeks ago. He gets his clothes from the men’s department (no more boys or youth sizes); he stopped asking for toys for his birthday wish list; and he’s ordering full meals from the menu (no more kids’ meals). He’s not driving yet, which is okay for Zee and me. But I know it’s just a matter of time.
This summer, Zechariah went on a trip without his dad and me for the first time. Uncle Gideon Mesia invited him to join them on their vacation in Florida. Zechariah packed the majority of his things, but as I was getting together some of his essential items, I was sentimentally overwhelmed. He was going to be on “his own,” without me there to make sure he took his medications or brought a jacket or ate. For those six days away, he didn’t need his dad or me.
But isn’t that the job of us parents? Ruthie told me, in her practical wisdom, that the job of parents is to raise our children so that they will become responsible adults who can live independently. If we do our jobs well, our adult children will not need us.
Hopefully, though, they will still want us – our advice, our approval, our presence, our love.
One of my associates and our office manager brought their children to their respective colleges a couple of weeks ago. They had to let them go. I still have Zechariah for another two years. I try not to think about the future too much. While he’s at home, whenever he needs me, I’m ready.
The Decade Cousins are growing up. Andrew is a pediatrician, husband, and now, most importantly, a father. Kristin is a lawyer doing her internship far away in New Jersey. Zechariah is in his junior year in high school and will be looking at colleges. Jonah is in the first of many years of grade school. Life is moving fast for them and the rest of the cousins.
For my brothers and sisters, congratulations on raising my adult nephews and nieces to become responsible adults and good citizens. For my nephews and nieces, even though you are grown up, thanks for not growing away. And to those who are parents, take care of and, more importantly, enjoy your little ones.
Whether our children are grown up and away or young and under our care, we need to remember what Mom and Dad taught us:
“Love [Yahweh] your [Elohim] with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7, NIV).
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6, NIV).
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6, KJV).
As each of our children enter a new stage of their lives, I pray that they will continue to grow in Yahweh and walk with Him, through Yeshua Messiah.