by Christy Gualtieri
I hate bees.
I understand their purpose. I have respect for what they contribute to nature and the process of fertilizing our plants and flowers, but I still hate them. I am not allergic to them, but my fear of bees runs so deep in my veins that the only thought that runs through my head when I see one is to run away. Now.
My son and I were playing in the backyard recently when a nearby bumblebee, clearly threatened, started buzzing wildly around us. I lost total control of the situation and freaked out, shrieking, and went into a blind panic. The bee circled around me, its buzz getting louder and louder.
“Trust me, bee,” I wanted to yell. “I was nowhere near your flowers. I respect your flowers! Get away from me!”
And as I was shrieking and dodging the bee, my legs going one way and my body another, my almost-two-year old son just stood there, completely unafraid, laughing at me. Full-on body laughs. He even got the hiccups.
I grabbed him by the armpits and held him close, and ran out of sight of the bee, my little one laughing all the way.
He had no idea why I was so afraid. The bee was charging the both of us, but he had no idea why the buzz of a bee would make me break out into a sweat and make my heart pound. What frightened me terribly had no affect on him. It made me happy for him, but I was still terrified.
Later on that evening, our family read books aloud before bed. My son can’t fully talk yet, maybe a few words here and there (“Go,” for one. “Oh,” for another); and as we read a story about an assortment of animals getting ready for bed in the galley of a cruise ship, he repeated one of the words, clear as day: “Towel!”
We stared at him, wide smiles on our faces. “Yeah! Towel!”
He said the word “towel” about fifty more times in the ten minutes that followed, but laughed the loudest after the ones he knew sounded most right to us.
But he wasn’t afraid. He wasn’t afraid to try a new thing, say a new word. I think about how afraid I am to try new things all the time, and was so happy to have a few moments in just the span of a few hours when my son taught me that sometimes in life, you just have to laugh at whatever scenario you’re in and plunge forward. Even if your pronunciation is off, even if you may get stung, the best – and most pure thing to do in the moment – is just to try.
I’m still scared of bees, and I probably will be just as frightened of them tomorrow and the day after that. But if I freak out again in front of my son, I’ll take a moment (after my pulse calms down) and maybe even try to laugh with him!
Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and son, blogs at openthoseojos.wordpress.com, and tweets @agapeflower117.
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