Tuesday, September 12, 2023



My son is afraid of bees. By “bees” I mean any flying insect that stings. Anything airborne elicits a flurry of flinchings and broken field dashes for shelter. I’ve watched him zig zag away from what turned out to be a small bird. He swears he hears a pervasive sub-audible buzzing.  It’s gotten so bad he doesn’t even like flowers. People who don’t know him come to think he’s afraid of flowers but it’s not the flowers. I’m worried the same logic will compel him to fear the sun. He already has an uneasy relationship with summer. Daytime dread, agoraphobic hermit. Locked in a room shadowed in darkness while everyone else is out there playing. And then people will really start to wonder. What happened to this little weirdo?  Blame the parents, of course. What did you do? But I can’t be held completely responsible.  I tell him all the time; you’ve got to learn to face your fears. Know thine enemy, Lao Tzu, and all that. So we do our research. In the winter all the female worker bees cluster around the queen and vibrate to keep her warm. The male drones die off uneventfully. Maybe one or two will get lucky with the queen but the rest sort of just exist for a hundred or so days. Can’t make honey. Don’t do any work around the hive. Mostly purposeless lives. But you won’t see them complain. Rage is a waste of energy. What are they going to do— they’re born without stingers. In many ways my boy is a lot like me. I used to be mortally terrified of bees. Got ambushed once as a boy on the foot by a wasp reposing under the sheets in my bed. To this day I check under the covers before sliding my feet into that dark caress. Another time a yellowjacket got me on the eyelid while climbing on the jungle gym I had just gotten for my birthday. After that I kept my head on a swivel. Never swung or slid. Watched it get all rusted. Didn’t trust anything anymore. Even home wasn’t necessarily safe. To be honest, I’m still afraid of bees but I’ve reconciled myself to the cold hard fact that sometimes you’re going to get stung. It’s the cost of doing business. That being said, I don’t want my boy to get stung. Not like that, at least. Let the bees come. A swarm when he’s ready. As long as he doesn’t have to feel a certain kind of sting. 


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