Herding Bees

My youngest son has always been a free spirit. Even as a toddler, generally accepted rules never applied to him (as an adult, they don’t apply to my wife either…but that’s another blog). I don’t mean he’s a criminal or anything like that…except, maybe, if somebody leaves a pumpkin pie laying around. No, what I mean is that he began to walk his own path very young.

A good example is bees. Most people see a bee and walk away, run away, or just hold still until it goes away. Not my son. I went out the back door to check on him one day when he was barely 3 years old and saw him in the flowers. He appeared to be talking to himself and moving his fingers around the petals. I moved in for a closer look and saw what he was doing. He was petting the many bees that were busy working the flowers. He had no fear and apparently no idea that these things could hurt him. Of course, a lesson was learned later when he tried to pet a yellowjacket, but even then, he just looked at the yellowjacket like he’d been betrayed.

Another thing he was fond of was taking a nap at his own schedule. Like outside after a long day of petting bees. He would just lay down where he was and sleep. Where we lived, there was an outdoor cat we called “Maynard.” He wasn’t our cat but belonged to the owner of the house we were staying in. Just like his owner, Maynard was an individual. Just like with his owner (okay, does anybody really own a cat?) he was an individual in a good way. We were sitting down to dinner one day when we heard a loud noise by the sliding door. Maynard had launched himself up onto the screen a good 4 feet up and was looking at us as we looked at him in amusement. Then his eyes went wide as the screen detached and fell with him still attached. That was funny. Anyway, I was talking about my son’s unique napping patterns.

Now I’ve heard and seen kids who could fall asleep at any time and anywhere, but that’s usually because they just fall over after fighting off the sleepiness for so long. Not my youngest. He planned his naps. He would find some soft ground, call for Maynard, then proceed to use Maynard as a pillow. The poor cat would just lay there and let him do it, not moving until he woke up.

As my son grew, he seemed to form a bond with almost every animal he met. They could sense something about him that made him a friend. Granted, he’s fuzzy and looks remarkably like an otter, but it was still awesome to watch. He didn’t limit himself to animals, however.

We had just moved to a tiny town in Northern Wisconsin, so tiny that they crossed off the population number from the welcome sign and added us to the total…ok, I made that last part up…and welcomed us with open arms…well, at least they welcomed him. While the rest of the kids and I unloaded the truck, my youngest son wandered around to check our new home. When we finished, I decided to take the kids for a walk to a restaurant to eat. The whole way, different people were greeting my youngest son by name. It was like he was some rock star and the rest of us were simply his entourage.

I finally asked one of the greeters how they knew my son’s name and they informed me that he came to their door and introduced himself as new to the neighborhood. My best guess is that he knocked on at least 30 or 40 doors to do this. He was 4 years old.

Now, I know some of you are thinking, “Mr. Dazeodrew, you must be a lousy dad to not know what your 4-year-old was doing while you unloaded a truck.” Guilty, but in my defense, we didn’t have the same worries about our little ones back then as we do now. Instead of having the television or game console to babysit, I preferred that my kids play outside and actually talk to other people with words spoken from their mouths, not from a handheld device. The way things are now, the sky could turn pink and half the people wouldn’t find out for days and only because they finally looked up from their handheld device.

Anyway, my youngest continues to be a free spirit but has had to learn to adapt to the world now that he has bills to pay. Adulting comes at a price.

About the bees? He still pets them…even yellowjackets at times.

Moral of this story? Just because one individual in a group stings you, it doesn’t mean all of them are going to sting you. Don’t demonize a group for the actions of one individual. Except yellowjackets…and hornets…and killer bees…

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