The knock on the door sounded timid yet persistent. I opened the door and discovered four-year-old Stephen standing there. I anticipated a request for cookies and Kool-Aide and wondered why Russell hadn’t asked himself. He was probably too busy playing and just sent his friend for supplies, I reasoned.


Before I could offer some refreshments, Stephen quietly said, “Mrs. Patterson, Russell needs you.” I was confused and stepped outside where I was met with blood-curdling screams. “Mom, help me!” I turned toward the sound and nearly fainted. My small son was hanging by one hand from a branch on a tall tree.


My feet flew as I ran down the street in his direction. “Hang on, son. I’m coming!”

What is he doing in a tree? They were supposed to be playing in the front yard. I only went inside to turn the on the oven and look what happened!


I stood beneath the tree and tried to catch my breath. As I surveyed the situation, I wondered how I could help him. He was too far up to reach. Did I have time to find a ladder? Should I try to break his fall with my body? Lord, what do I do? He’s so little and he’s so far up!


The fear in his eyes propelled my mother’s protective heart into action. With a confidence I didn’t possess, I calmly instructed him to let go, reassuring him that I would catch him. He hesitated only a moment, looked me in the eyes, and trustingly let go.


The moment I saw his little hand release his hold of the branch, I braced myself and fervently prayed, “Lord, let me catch him. Make my arms like a big baseball glove!” Though he was only four, I felt I’d been hit by a steam engine as his body fell into my arms. We both fell to the ground. Stunned, we sat there for a moment. Then we both began to cry tears of fear, doubt, joy, and relief. I was angry he had climbed the tree and at the same time grateful he hadn’t been hurt.


Slowly, I got up, took both boys by the hand and started for home. I found myself praying, “How do I handle this, Lord? I need your insight and wisdom. What do I say to these boys? How do I impress upon them the danger of climbing trees? Am I being overly protective? When does a mother give her son some slack? How does he learn to make wise decisions?”


Sitting on the steps of the front porch, I said, “Let’s get the scratches on your hand cleaned up, have some cookies, and then I’ll give you some tree climbing lessons.” Both boys shouted and gave each other high-fives. Russell turned to me and said, “Thanks, Mom!” And as he ran into the house, he called over his shoulder, “I knew you’d catch me!”

I praise God for Mothers and lessons learned!


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©Edwina Patterson