The Meaning of Children: Lighten Up

The Meaning of Children

In May FDW is hosting a new series on  stories from people in all walks of life and their observations of children and what they make us. Click here for more on the series and a list of the contributors. This post was written by dear friend Christine Gough – we’ve gone through so many seasons of adulthood together – and am sooooooooo thankful for her words and honesty. 


Alex, my eldest, asked a question from our Table Topics Box of Questions the other morning:

“What exercise is so fun it doesn’t feel like exercise?!”

He responds to his own question in all seriousness:  “Playing Monopoly.”

Younger brother, Drew, quickly pipes up:  “PETTING SALLY!”

Moments later I overhear:

“What is the healthiest fast food you eat?”

Alex:  “Carl’s Jr fries on French Fry Fridays!”

Drew:  “No, Alex.  McDonalds’ fries….you can eat them faster.  They are healthier if you eat them FAST.”

And I allow a chuckle to escape because—-it has been a MONTH.  Illness has taken over our family in every which way you could imagine.  Friends joke about quarantining our house.  “You guys just can’t seem to catch a break!” another co-worker commiserates.  Even the lady at Safeway smiled and empathized, “I’m sorry…” when she saw my cart’s contents the other day.

I am a planner.  Type A to the core.  Maybe….a control freak?  It is often a joke that these personality traits have lead me to my profession “managing” eight and nine year olds in the classroom.

The unpredictability that naturally comes along with parenthood has been one of the bigger challenges for me over the last eight years.  You can’t plan for illness.  Maybe predict it or stress about it, but not plan.  Injury can happen even during the most innocuous moments.  Case in point, Drew split his forehead open after tripping while singing “This Little Light of Mine” with a flashlight in the dark.  Sweet and cute moments can quickly land you in the ER within the blink of an eye.

But moments unfold that surprise.   “Feasts” made of wooden food and plastic tableware spread before you with pride.  Love notes “Four Sally” taped by your dog’s bed {when you’re FOUR why would you write FOR properly?!}.  LEGO creations carefully crafted for your approval.  Even early awakenings that lead to unexpected beauty.


The other morning at 5:58am, Drew summoned us with, “You HAVE to see the sunrise!  It is so beautiful!!!!!!!!”  This was quickly followed by “I need to draw that!”

About 10 minutes later, I exited the shower to this scene.  Truly priceless use of toilet as art easel.

These little people, swirling around us each day are often a mystery.  And for me?  I often want to control, contain, quiet and subdue that mystery.  Children, whether my 3rd grade students or my own two boys, unarm.  They surprise.  They are unpredictable.

Through it all, though, I am seeing the message loud and clear, though, “Lighten Up, Christine.  Lighten UP.”  It’s not a flippant, “get it together” tone from God.  More of a loving reminder—-a phrase to allow these moments of joy and humor push their way up through the crevices.  To see the beauty these little ones see and soak it in.  To let go of the reins a bit and loosen up.  An invitation to Lighten Up.

And when all else fails….Donuts.  Just donuts.


IMG_7026[1]Christine Gough is the author of These Stones where she writes about the joys, trials, fun and events of everyday life—parenting & teaching–and faith. Christine lives in Corvallis, Oregon, and her days are filled with 2 energetic boys and her husband’s busy pastor schedule and teaching third grade half- time.  When Christine isn’t chasing her own boys, throwing in loads of laundry or unloading the dishwasher, she loves to capture everyday life behind her camera, write, read, experiment with in the kitchen, or spend time with friends and family.

3 thoughts on “The Meaning of Children: Lighten Up

Comments are closed.