The photo in this post is of a bumblebee (or maybe a carpenter bee) that I rescued out of a pail of water. That is actually my hand it’s sitting on in the picture. This will become relevant later…
When I was a couple of years old, I had a toy called a Queen Buzzy Bee. It was basically a block of flat sided wood with plastic wheels, springy antennae, and a plastic pull-cord. You can see a picture of one here.
Interestingly, though I was a super shy, quiet kid later on, as a toddler I apparently had a hellacious temper. My mother says that I scared her on several occasions because I’d get so angry that I’d not be able to catch my breath and would turn a frightful shade of purple.
I don’t know whether these fits would be categorized as tantrums or meltdowns… I wasn’t trying to get my way/manipulate (or even engage) any adults, I was just usually trying accomplish something – and failing – and getting very, very frustrated.
Sometimes it was some task that I just didn’t have the motor skills at that age to do, like stacking blocks or putting something together, or drawing. But the Buzzy Bee, according to my mom, was responsible for some of the most epic fits.
I loved that toy and would pull it all around the house, but every time I came around a corner, it would tip over (did I mention that it was basically just a flat block of wood?) and when that would happen, I would lose my sh*t… And then I’d try it again, over and over and over, stubbornly determined to make it work, but not able to, until I was finally literally hysterical.
I don’t remember any of that, though I do remember the Queen Buzzy Bee toy itself. I think my mother had ended up having to hide it from me until I was a bit older.
My fondness for all sorts of creepy crawly things has been a lifelong passion. I spent a good portion of my early childhood sitting by myself outside my house, or my grandparent’s house, playing with bugs. An ant nest or a community of roly-polies (aka pill bugs, sow bugs, wood lice) were a lot more interesting to me than dolls or games. When I was very young, I was extremely fascinated by bees, and desperately wanted to catch one.
When I was about four, I did.
It’s probably a non-spoiler to start off by saying that did not go well for me.
My mother patiently tried to explain to me, many many times, that bees did not want to be held and they would sting me if I tried, and it would hurt. I didn’t listen; at that age, I wasn’t particularly moved by what the bee might want. I wanted the bee, that was all that was important (it wouldn’t be until many years later that I developed the empathy to consider the wants and needs of other creatures over my desire to possess them, but that’s a topic for another post, I guess) and I don’t think I had any frame of reference for how badly a bee sting would hurt. Ants bit me, and it was just a little pinch. Besides, I would be careful and a bee would not want to sting me, I would insist when she told me to leave the bees alone.
I was endlessly captivated by these brightly colored little buzzing jewels, and would spend hours stalking them and trying to grab one. I wasn’t the most coordinated child, so it took a while before the inevitable happened. A split second of triumph turned into a world of hurt.
My mother probably thought I was being killed when the bloodcurdling shriek happened – as I’ve touched on before, I had quite a set of lungs on me. She pulled the stinger out, put a cold cloth on my throbbing thumb and got to say “I told you so” as I wailed inconsolably.
My fascination with bees, from then on, became instead an intense fear of them. I quickly forgot that I had (in spite of many warnings) antagonized the bee; no, all bees were out to get me and the mere presence of one near me would send me into a hysterical panic.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I finally conquered that fear and learned to appreciate bees again. Some, like honeybees and bumblebees, I’ll even let crawl on me. Hornets and wasps I’ll keep a calm but respectful distance from but I can appreciate them. Yellow jackets are the only exception: those things are evil-tempered and unpredictable. Forgive the crudity, but this kind of sums up how I feel about yellow jackets…