Evie and the “Bee”

Evie and I were swimming in the pool (or rather I was swimming and she was receiving a “dolphin-back ride”), when I heard something large buzzing around my head.

“Is there something buzzing around us?” I asked Evie. “I can’t see it.” “Yeah,” she said, “A big bee.”

I started swimming away from the corner of the pool, but it’s hard to move very fast with a kid hugging your windpipe like it’s her favorite teddy.

“Is it still around us?” I asked, not hearing it anymore. With Spock-like calmness she replied, “It’s on my head. It’s stinging me.”

Just about then I reached a shallow enough part of the pool where I could stand up. I took her off my back and she was as calm and still as could be. Later she told me, “I was thinking, it’s stinging me. Is this what stinging feels like? Why does everybody make such a fuss about it?”

Fortunately for her, I discovered it was not actually a bee on her head. Unfortunately for her, it was a horsefly the size of a silver dollar, and it was positively burrowing into her skull.

I’m sure that a bee sting would have been worse, but there is something absolutely, revoltingly, primally, abhorrent about seeing a giant insect burrowing into your daughter. I shudder even to remember it now. My first reaction was just to pull her under water (which I luckily didn’t do, because I’m quite sure she would take giant biting insects over a surprise dunk in the pool any day of the week), or just get her away from that thing as fast as humanly possible. I actually don’t even remember what I did, maybe flicked it off? And then ran in the other direction? I don’t know.

By the time I got her safely to the shallow end, there was a lot of blood. I quite brilliantly said, “Ohmygoshthere’salotofblood!” It was only at this point that she started to cry.

Now obviously, at the end of the day, all was well. However, as I reflected back on the whole thing I was completely floored by how brave she had been. Thinking that a bee was stinging her repeatedly in the head, she absolutely did what we’ve always told her to do: she stayed still and calm, trusting that startling it would only make things worse. She didn’t panic, she kept her head, and if only it *had* been a bee, she probably would have been fine. Keeping your head in a crisis is a fine trait to have, it’s just unfortunate that it was a horsefly intent on FEASTING ON THE BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT.

Someone wise once said, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Clearly, this one’s jedi training is coming along smashingly.


Children covered in bees

The other day I received an email from Ollie’s school. It turns out that the class had taken a walk in the park, and had unfortunately stumbled full-force into a nest of yellow jackets. What had started as a fun little nature walk ended in 21 screaming 3 year olds, covered in bees.

Can you imagine the carnage of an entire preschool class being swarmed by bees? Kids running, kids screaming, kids crying, dogs and cats, living together…mass hysteria. I doubt bedlam is too strong a word.

In the email, one of the children was quoted as saying “They can’t talk so they tell us with their stings!” “WHY DO THEY HAVE TO TELL US SO MANY TIMES?” I assume she continued. All in all, 9 kids were stung. Needless to say, the school nurse was a little busy that day.

Oliver was one of the children who was stung. Apparently a bee or two had crawled up the leg of his shorts and gotten him a few times on the inner thigh. (!!) Of course, it took the nurse awhile to realize he’d been stung, since he was just sitting there smiling and generally in a good mood; she thought he’d been sent down with the other kids by mistake. That boy and his ridiculous pain tolerance (remember how he forgot to mention even once his chronic ear infections?) By the time Sara picked him up from school he had already forgotten which leg had been stung, and he insists that the red welts are “mosquito bites”.

By the time I got home from work, the whole event was a distant memory.

“Did anything happen at school today?” I asked.
“No,” he said.
“Did you go for a walk to the park?”
“Yeah, we did.”
“…and did anything happen while you were at the park?” (You know, such as you and 20 of your classmates being swarmed and stung repeatedly, while everybody ran around and screamed like some kind of a cartoon?)
“Yeah!” said Ollie excitedly, “I found a stick!”

Oh well. Better than being traumatized I guess. Despite living through the Titanic-level disaster scenario of 21 children covered in yellow jackets, his outlook on bees hasn’t changed a bit.