Blueberries and bees

The other day, I was stung by a bee. My parents were in town and we decided to take a trip to a farm to pick some peaches. When we got there, we learned that the peaches had been picked clean and needed to ripen. But there were still blueberries for the “die hard” pickers. So off we went to work, filling our stomachs along the way.

My oldest took charge, collecting everyone’s berries and helping us see where to pick next. My youngest was picking green unripen berries and eating them. I was in the bushes, looking for the hidden ones. My mom was all the way up the row, leaving us behind. My dad was lagging back, finding every last berry. We were all in our element, needless to say.

Then, I reached in and felt the sting. I looked at my wrist and saw the yellowjacket struggling to get its stinger loose from my body. It succeeded and flew away swiftly.

“Ouch, I just got stung by a bee,” I said.

Grabbing my arm, I thought two things. First, I apologized (out loud mind you) to the bee for disturbing them. And second, that this didn’t hurt nearly as much as I remember it.

“What happened?” I heard her say.

…Let’s go back a bit.

“Tell me about the times you were stung by a bee?” she’d asked me before bed. This was a regular ask. She wanted to learn this story in detail. So, I’d tell her about all 5-6. Sometimes, I’d remember them all, other times I’d forget one or two. She wanted to know what happened and how it happened. She was always like this. When our dog died when she was 3, she wanted to know all of the details of his death. She even asked me to show her pictures of cancer in dogs and where in his body it was. We learned early that it’s important for her to know what’s coming when we can offer that. We used to practice going to the dentist over and over before her visits. We’d share all about whatever our plans were for the day so she knew what was coming next. At first, we did it for our own benefit. We just didn’t want all of the questions and hoped for no complaining along the way. But soon we learned that this was a necessary step to her comfort. To her existence. She doesn’t always need this, as she also loves adventure. But she does not like surprises and especially ones that involve pain…

“I was stung by a bee,” I answered.

“Go get Grandma now,” she said all seriously. “Go get her, go now,” she insisted.

“I’m ok,” I said.

“No, Grandma is right there,” she said as she pointed. She was worried for me and was looking for an expert adult. I was no longer that since I was the one hurt.

I looked at her and calmly said, “I’m ok baby, it already feels better.”

“Can I see it?” she asked.

I showed her the two tiny, dark red dots on top of my wrist.

“What does it feel like?” she asked.

“Exactly what it’s called, a sting. Almost like getting a shot. It hurts when it happens but then it starts to feel better.”

She looked satisfied. I also felt grateful. This was a learning moment for her. To see that a sting wasn’t so scary, you could live through it, and that she would be all right. I feel gratitude, to share a lived experience with her, and even for that little bugger who was protecting its berries.

She skipped ahead and caught up with my mom.

“Mommy got stung by a bee,” she announced all knowingly.

She was back in her element.

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