All toddlers are curious, but my son Wesley was in a class by himself.
He was always into something he shouldn’t be: cologne, diaper rash ointment, wall sockets, you name it. I had to make sure I knew just where he was at all times. Not easy!
One day my husband, Martin, and I went out into our backyard to collect tree limbs after a thunderstorm. The woods that surrounded our yard had been hit hard, and we had to clear the area of sticks and branches before Martin could mow the lawn. I took frequent breaks to check on Wesley. His older brother, Brandon, helped. He and Wesley played together on the lawn, while I collected the last of the branches and Martin went to get the mower.
“Okay to mow now,” I said when Martin returned. “I think we got everything all cleaned up.”
Then I looked for the boys. I couldn’t see them anywhere on the lawn. So I looked up. I spied Brandon’s leg hanging down from the tree house.
“How are you two doing up there?” I called from the base of the tree.
“I’m fine,” Brandon said.
“How about Wesley?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Brandon replied. “I haven’t seen him in a while.”
“What?” I said, but there was no use scolding Brandon for not keeping a closer eye on his brother. I could barely keep track of Wesley and I was his mother.
I ran around the yard, frantically looking. “Wesley!” I called over and over. The mower stopped. “I don’t know where Wesley is,” I shouted.
“Maybe he wandered into the woods,” Martin said. “Anything in there could have caught his attention. A squirrel, a rabbit, a deer.”
It was true. And maybe only a harmless squirrel or rabbit would have gotten his attention, but what about the other animals that might be waiting for him in the woods? He could trip on a log and hurt himself. Or get pricked all over by thorny brambles. And then I pictured the biggest danger—the pond 100 yards in. “The pond!” I said.
Martin went pale. Brandon grabbed his father’s hand. “Come on, Dad!” They sprinted off.
I couldn’t move from my spot in the yard. I was frozen. I couldn’t face even the possibility that Wesley might have wandered into the pond. He couldn’t swim! Please let his guardian angel be with him.
Then I heard a cry. Very faint, but familiar nonetheless. I strained to listen. Wesley! His voice wasn’t coming from the pond, but from the opposite direction.
I ran through the yard and into the woods. It seemed like every thorny bramble scratched and tore at my arms and legs. Yet I charged ahead, breath heavy and dripping in sweat, following the sound of that distressed cry. “Wesley!” I called.
At last I spotted him. Wesley, his face red, was standing in the middle of three pine saplings. Not just standing—he was trapped. The trees grew so close together I couldn’t imagine how Wesley had managed to squeeze his body into the middle of them. The branches extended all around him like protective arms, like they were keeping him safe until I came to find him.
I reached through the branches and needles that had Wesley immobilized. Soon he was in my protective arms, hugging tightly to my chest. “How in the world did you manage to get between those branches in the first place?” I asked him.
Wesley couldn’t tell me. He just wiped his red eyes and wrapped his arms around my legs. He must have squeezed himself inside without even realizing and then started crying when he couldn’t get back out.
“Martin! Brandon!” I called.
They came running and in moments we were reunited. “Thank goodness he’s safe,” Martin said.
“Yes,” I replied. “An angel made sure of that.”
From that day on I was more vigilant than ever when it came to Wesley and the woods. But I also knew that the day would come when I’d fail to keep an eye on every move my son made. And when that day came, I would trust in those same protective arms to keep him safe. The arms of his guardian angel.
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