Today he hurt himself climbing a tree. Tears running down his cheek soon turned into a flood. It was hard being brave when you´re six years old.
"Mom!" he cried. It really hurt.
"What?" she asked.
"I hurt myself."
Then her arms surrounded him like a cuddly bear. She kissed away his sore feelings then rushed to get a band-aid. John loved the attention mom gave her little boy.
"Did you climb the tree again?" she asked. "The one back of the shed?" Eyebrows turned into question marks. "You're not supposed to climb that tree anymore."
"Should he tell the truth? A tiny voice inside his head yelled out, "Yes!´ And John did tell the truth.
"Remember what I said for you to do?" mom asked.
"I´m not supposed to try and climb that maple tree anymore," he whispered.
"That´s right dear," mom replied. "You fall down too many times. And I worry about you."
"But I want to learn how to do it right," he said. "Will you show me mom?"
Mom said, "No."
Later she watched as her son played with his friends in the backyard. He wrestled and ran around and seemed to enjoy himself.
His mom saw how careful he was, about not playing too roughly. He also patiently waited for his turn on the swing. She also remembered John often helped Mrs. Nelson carry her garbage to the compost bin.
She saw he didn´t climb the tree anymore, even though other children did. She must check the board ladder to see how strong it was.
John already knew it was, because he helped build it. The wood steps disappeared all the way up the tree.
Except at the top there was a missing space before the tallest limb. It was the highest one and no one dared go that far. But, the children still had fun climbing up and down the remaining rungs.
Mom watched John as he stood, looking up at his friends. It was pleasing to see he still followed her instructions.
She imagined how much John wished she´d change her mind. She could almost hear the thought building inside him.
It must be hard watching the others act as monkeys, moving from limb to limb.
Mom sure loved her son.
Was she worrying too much?
Suddenly she decided to do a foolish thing. Or perhaps it was just plain silly. She rushed to her room and dressed up in her outside work clothes.
That meant old jacket and jeans, and worn sneakers.
Then she put on her favorite T-shirt, white with yellow paint streaks. It was bright, colorful and cheerful like the sun. She decided to show her young son she too knew how to have fun.
She peeked through the window and noticed everyone still there.
John asked, "Mom? Where are you going?"
She didn't answer as she walked through the backyard past the amazed children. They weren´t used to having an adult coming to play with them.
She walked directly to the tall tree and looked straight up.
Was his mom going to climb the tree? John wondered.
First she tested the climbing-down rope. Then she checked the walking-up boards. Everything seemed good and strong, especially the board ladder that went up and up.
His mouth dropped as she began to climb. Soon, one foot followed the other. Up and up she went right to the top.
Right now, John was very proud of his mom. As the children watched, their eyes almost popped out.
Soon she reached the last rung. Then carefully she climbed a few more steps until she sat on the largest and tallest limb. This was almost like climbing a mountain.
After she comfortably settled in like a cat, she called down. "John. Come on up."
And he did.
When they were both safely settled on the scary limb his mom smiled. John was quite happy being at the top, for the very first time.
Mother and son stared down into many wide-open mouths. They could almost count everyone´s teeth.
"Mom. When you're not here, may I still come up?" John quietly asked.
She looked back at her son. His arms were brown and strong. His eyes were bright and full of questions. Freckles covered his face like brown snowflakes.
His huge smile already knew the answer.
Mom said, "Yes."
* * *
´ Richard & Esther Provencher
My wife, Esther and I really enjoy writing. It is an excellent salve, in addition to prayers, a great wife and family during my continuing recovery from a stroke/aneurysm. You can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org re comments on our work. We live in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. Pray for others.