Séamus, my resident 3 year old, is known as our resident monkey. He has absolutely no fear, and will climb up just about anything. Height? Not an issue; despite his somewhere around 3 1/2 foot stature, he will willingly, and without a moment’s hesitation, brave the highest of highs to rise above what he seems to think are the lowest of lows. Even when I am pushing him on the swing, he begs to go higher and higher. I have never experienced such a 3 year old, even in this family of 11 children. I shudder to think what his “Daredevil” nature will bring ten years from now. Maybe I should just tie weights to his feet now, in anticipation. Especially after today’s exciting adventure of “climb so high that we practically give Mom a heart attack”.

As I said already, Séamus loves to climb, but what I didn’t mention is that trees are his specialty. He lives to climb trees. As soon as he can get his little body out of my house, he makes a mad dash to one of the trees in the yard so he can turn into Monkey Boy and climb into the clouds. Apparently, the clouds stay fairly low in the branches of the trees because he doesn’t really go all that high up, thankfully. So while I’m not too terribly keen on his climbing up, at least I know that “up” isn’t going to be too much more than a foot or two off the ground. That was, until today. It makes me practically swoon just thinking about it….I’d better get this out quickly before I do.

The day was pretty much like any other…the sun was brilliantly shining and the temperature wasn’t too hot. There was a soft breeze blowing through all of the trees we have surrounding the house…in other words, it was a perfect day to play outside. This is a good thing…try dealing with 11 kids on a rainy day when they have to stay in the house all day long. The 11 feels like 100. But anyway, back to my story…it was late in the afternoon, and I was preparing supper while listening to Ella on my iPod (Ella Fitzgerald, for those who might not know). All of a sudden, Victoria comes running into the kitchen, yelling at the top of her lungs: “MOMMMMMY!!!!! Come quick!! Séamus is stuck up in the tree!!” I stop what I’m doing, and look at the concern on her face, and tell Shannon (who is 12) to go out to see what’s going on. Now, I need to explain something. Yes, Victoria was concerned…her face was etched with it in fact. But Victoria has a habit of being very dramatic, and it’s oftentimes difficult to discern whether or not her concern is something I need to be concerned about. More often than not, it’s something small and rather silly, and it was those gleanings I was drawing from when I made the decision to send Shannon out rather than go out myself. All I can say is that I’m glad Chris heard her fearful pleas and ran out after Shannon. By the time he got to the tree (not the usual one he climbs, I might add…the “usual” tree was much smaller and I felt secure that if he were indeed stuck, it was only a short way up and Shannon could just take him off the tree from where she stood on the ground), Shannon was almost up to where he was…about 20 feet from the ground. He was hanging on a branch, his little arms clinging for dear life, sobbing because he was so terrified. His legs weren’t even around the tree, but dangling down as he tried so desperately to keep hold of the branch his arms were around. Shannon was able to get to him, and with Chris’ guidance, was able to help Séamus climb down the tree and back to safety.

They all walked back to the house, and Séamus got a drink and a big hug from Mommy, then proceeded to go watch the Backyardagains. Shannon looked at me, and then started to sob herself. “What if I hadn’t made it, Mom…what if he had fallen?” The realization of what had just happened didn’t hit her until she knew he was safe. It was only then that she broke down, shaking and crying. I cuddled her and told her how wonderful she was…there aren’t many adults that could keep their cool in a situation such as that. And yet Shannon did it like a pro…her bravery was astounding and I can’t even begin to say how very proud of her I truly am.

Later on, after we’d had dinner and the dishes were being done by the kids, Séamus came out to the back porch where I was sitting. He sat down next to me, and I hugged him and told him I loved him. I then said: “But you’re not going to climb any more trees, are you Séamus?”, totally expecting him to answer with a resounding NO! because of what he’d just gone through. He looked up at me, and smiled with those big, brown eyes of his gleaming impishly and answered: “I go climb trees again tomorrow!” He then jumped up and ran back into the house, as I put my head into my hands, praying fervently to his guardian angel to keep an extra watch on him…and if possible, find a couple extra with nothing better to do to give him a hand because I’m sure he’ll need it. Oh, and by the way, it is because of Séamus’ answer that this story is “Part 1”. In lieu of things, I’m fairly certain there will be a “Part 2” very soon.