A Children Ache

Every night before bedtime, and sometimes before school, Sean and AD will read at least one chapter from a book of children’s classics.

Having gone through most of the other more exciting and well known titles, we are down to Pollyanna. But he is just as enthralled with Pollyanna as he was with The Swiss Family Robinson.

Stepping up to chapter books like Tom Sawyer and Oliver Twist has presented many opportunities to talk about some of the more unsavory and unpleasant aspects of life.  Many of the characters are orphaned or suffer cruelty at the hands of those who should protect them.  And there is always a concern to AD and me over how much of this kind of information is appropriate for a five-year-old.

But the thing about Sean that continually amazes us is how wise he is beyond his years and how tenderly perceptive he is about the human condition and matters of the heart.  Although we would certainly like to claim credit for that,  it’s simply the way God made him.

If you don’t recall or haven’t read the story of Pollyanna, she is a young girl who was orphaned and goes to live with her Aunt Polly who is a cold and crusty middle-aged spinster.  Aunt Polly suffered a thwarted romance early in her life which left her bitter and she has never gotten over it.  Aunt Polly has a big house, yet she makes Pollyanna sleep in a hot, stuffy, bleak attic and in general gives Pollyanna no affection.  Nonetheless, as the story goes, it is Pollyanna’s way to see the silver lining in every gray cloud.

At one point in the story, AD stopped reading and looked over the book at Sean who was lying in bed.  “Why do you suppose Aunt Polly is so gruff?” he asked.

“I think she has a children ache,” Sean said quietly.

“Oh Sean,” AD sighed, “I think you are so right. A lot of times when people are gruff on the outside, and sad or mean, it’s because they are hurting on the inside.”

It’s true. I had a children ache once too.

34 thoughts on “A Children Ache

  1. Your post made me cry with the memory of my “children ache.” Today my life is filled with children–4 beautiful gifts from God–and my heart overflows with gratitude. I know so many who have “children aches” for all kinds of reasons. I love God’s gentleness in ministering to those aches. He is good.


  2. I love reading your blog. We may never meet, but you have a way of piercing my heart. Most people never do that or see it. Thanks for your musings.


  3. Oh my, I also had a children ache. Finally, at 45 and mama to a delightful 22 month old … the children ache is gone, but now I have many more aches! 🙂

    Thank you for sharing Sean with us, he is ever so charming and delightful. And wise beyond his years.



  4. Beautiful phrasing.

    That book surprised me (Pollyanna). My brother said, “Don’t be such a Pollyanna” when I bounced downstairs to breakfast smiling and happy (which, several decades later, I no longer do). He said it as if it were an insult. So I always had the feeling Pollyanna must have been unconvincingly and sickeningly sweet. But I found her to be charming, encouraging, positive, and inspiring.

    But I don’t mind sweet stories.


  5. I had a children ache and I didn’t even know it. Once I had my boy, I realized how bitter I would have become if I had never had him.


  6. Don’t they say that children choose their parents?
    Maybe Sean knew about your “children ache” and came as an angel to fix it.

    You’re right. He is wise. Don’t dismiss your part in it, though. He’s a very blessed young man, as you are very blessed parents. What a nice tribe you make.


  7. I love your Sean stories. I strive for the wisdom of a child…

    Books I loved as a kid (and still do):
    The BFG (Big Friendly Giant)
    The Ramona Quimby series (maybe wait a few years for these? I think they’re 7-8 year old books)
    Charlotte’s Web
    The Bearinsteen Bears
    The Purple Crayon
    Where the Wild Things Are (still a favorite!)


  8. I loved the Chronicles of Narnia (I did not discover C.S. Lewis until I was well beyond childhood) and think they would be on my top ten list if I were reading to children. I think it is wonderful that you do read stories and yea, verily, novels to him. Enjoying books together is very special; it offers things you would never find from watching the movie (although that’s good, too.)


  9. He amazes me with his perception. I think discernment might be a spiritual gift of his!

    A series my husband loved as a boy, and that I even enjoyed reading a few years ago after we were married was the “Redwall” series by Brian Jacques. Anthropomorphic, yet quite good.


  10. Oh I loved these books! My boys loved Winnie the Pooh – all of those books and they’re clever which kept me interested. Eeyore’s birthday can still make me cry! The Jungle Book – amazing and insightful book – taught me and mine to respect and celebrate difference.
    The first thing I did when I found out I was going to be a grandma was start buying books! Love it!
    Also – your boy will keep that sensitivity because you nurture it as a strength. My boys did – they are beautiful, strong, compassionate young men:)


  11. I love that you’re getting book recommendations here.

    We have moved on to BigSpeak doing the reading these days, so in some respects our “stories” have gotten a bit more basic, but it’s still so fun to read with them. And having girls, I have to say that I do love that there are so many positive girl stories out there now. (Don’t get me wrong, the princesses are alive and well here, but there are LOTS of stories in which the heroine holds her own now and I love that.)

    BTW, Sean gives me a child ache. Not a bad one, I have two beautiful kids. But he’s good at reminding me of why I wanted them in the first place. It’s like newborn baby smell; makes my uterus ache. And then LittleSpeak reminds me of why we’re done having kids.
    Somehow Sean’s “child ache” is so much more eloquent than my “uterus ache”.


  12. Thanks for linking to your story! In all this time, I’d never known “the rest of the story.”

    I’ve been reading many of the fairy tales to my 4YO son, and I’m telling you — they are scary! Many of the classics deal with orphans and abandonment issues — which some day I’ll have to address w/ my 2YO. Unfortunately, what is just a “scary fairy tale” for most is the truth to her…and it Breaks. My. Heart. I’ve got a hard road ahead of me.

    In other news…

    Sean might enjoy The Dragonling. Owls in the Family. Paddington Bear. The Wizard of Oz. The Little House books are surprisingly boy-friendly, but after reading 2 1/2 of them, we had to move on. Oh! Another good one is Sign of the Beaver.


  13. It thrills me to hear that Sean is enjoying the great children’s classic books. I’ve always believed that children who are read to and live in homes with books always available grow up to be life-long readers. Books take you places, teach you, entertain, amuse, make you think, touch the heart…..I am going to re-read some of my favorites this year, starting with Little Women. Colleen


  14. I just finished reading David Copperfield. Whew! Man, that was a tough one. I don’t ever remember reading it before. Now, I can cross that book off my list. I can read the Nicholas Sparks that I got for Christmas. A little lighter reading than Dickens!


  15. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever read your story about being an antique mommy….wow, what a ride. And what a joy Sean is….I think he “gets it”, and I think he is gifted with a perception by God. One day he will be a godly man, and a joy to know….as he is now. How fabulous!


  16. I have always thought that Sean was way beyond his years. Wisdom is not born in the child, it was placed in his heart by two loving, patient antique parents. I am so happy that he cured your “children ache”.


  17. A tender and perceptive heart is a beautiful thing. Especially so in a culture that has not always encouraged that. I had a tenderhearted boy who becase a tenderhearted man and he is a gift. Beautifully said.


  18. Oh, and I was just curious if you’d tried any non-classics like Andrew Clements’ Frindle yet? I think Jack is really ready for the concept but not so sure about the verbage, so thanx for the inspiration 🙂


  19. I agree that God makes ’em to begin, but the nurturing you do helps him be confident in who he is and the ways that he thinks and interacts with others – I hear a whole lotta you and AD in him. Bravo. I’m so glad sweet Sean helped heal you children ache, and that you share it with us. Happy New Year!


  20. One of the reasons Sean is so wise is that you read these things to him.

    Have you tried the first part of “The once and future king” by T H White? It’s a lovely story of King Arthur’s childhood and his tutoring by Merlin. Arthur is turned into an ant, a wild goose, a fish… all to learn about different political structures. It’s fun and you will cry with laughter at the antics of King Pellinore and the Questing Beast.

    My kids also loved “The Hobbit” at that age.

    “The Wind in the Willows”?


    That’s all for now!

    * * *

    Have already read The Wind in the Willows. Will put the others on the list. ~ AM.


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