Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bee-ing There

I like to think that I would do anything to protect my children, that I would sacrifice myself and my well-being to prevent any harm from befalling Declan, Ronan, and now Molly. I like to think that.

But I'm wrong.

Since Declan was born, there have been two instances where I feel that I have completely and utterly failed him as a parent. The first was more than three years ago, in Ireland. I was carrying him down some stone steps, lost my footing, and fell the last three steps to the concrete floor. I landed hard, with bruised knees and ego.

And I dropped Declan.

He was fine, a bit scared, and cried for a few minutes. But I was horrified. Here, when my son needed me most, I failed. My instinct should not have been to put out my hands to break my fall, it should have been to wrap my hands around my baby and hold him tight.

Then, last year, I was in the kitchen with Declan, Matty, and Andy, when there was a small explosion on the stovetop.

Did I throw myself on top of Declan to protect him from what turned out to be an exploding gas lighter, or dive to push him out of the way? No.

I ducked behind the sink.

I think that is in these moments, when pure instinct takes over and we cannot obsess or analyze how exactly to react, it is then when we see our true nature. And my true nature is clearly trying to tell me something.

I have my moments. When Declan was a newborn, some horrid creepy crawly thing darted into his carseat (with him in it), and I didn't run screaming in the opposite direction or call Matty and insist he come home from work straightaway. I calmly scooped out the bug and then washed my hands 17 times.

This past weekend, we took the kids to a birthday party at Linvilla Orchards, a favorite spot for pick-your-own fruit. Last year we picked apples on a particularly hot September day, and Declan got stung repeatedly on his wrist by a very angry wasp. Since then, we have picked peaches and blueberries, and even tiny plums, but each time Declan announced that he would not go apple picking.

The day of the party was very sunny and brisk, a bit cold for bees, I would think, but once the pizza and cake were served, so were the bees. They were everywhere, crawling into cups of lemonade, hovering over pizza crusts and resting hungrily on cake crumbs. Declan was literally shrieking with terror.

Now I must confess, I am terrified of bees and wasps. Not allergic, just really, really scared. Years ago, when I lived in Florida, I had to call a friend to let me into my house because there was a beehive over the door and I simply couldn't walk under it (she let me in the back door). So I know where Declan's coming from. And I can't say I was too happy at this party either.

But I didn't let Declan know any of that. I stood with him among the bees and stayed calm. And though my instinct was to scoop him up and hide in the car, I stayed strong.

If I can handle bees, I can handle anything. I hope.

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