I don’t think I was as drawn to facts when I was a child… though perhaps I just don’t recollect this pull… because I certainly feel it now.
I also feel the pull toward the fantastic, as does H, which is more how I remember being as a child… imagining… dreaming… pretending…
I was frequently one of the last to complete my work in early elementary school. I usually knew what to do – but it didn’t hold my interest. My body was quietly working to behave in the confinement of my school desk. I was just barely contained and possibly betrayed by my bouncing knees, or the hidden stuffed elephant with silky ears who was lonely if left in the cloakroom, or my stretching-out and letting-go of the retractable threads of nylon in my often snagged leotards.
I was able to sit (relatively) still – but my mind was moving – occupied by my thoughts and winding imagination. As a result, I spent many a’recess inside – completing the work I should have done when everyone else was working.
Yes… this is how I remember being as a child… imagining… dreaming… pretending… and most of this, the best part of this, was done outdoors – very likely in our back yard, in the woods by our house – or quite possibly up a tree.
I distinctly remember, one evening, warily approaching the cotoneaster bush that grew against the fence at the back of our yard. It must have been spring because it was in flower and it was abuzz with bees.
It was that time, near the end of the day, when the light was angled so that the sun shone with spotlight intensity upon the bush. It beckoned me – with the drone of bee-song and the dancing play of light upon the waxy evergreen leaves and the blossoms that would later become berries.
As I made my way closer, it pulled me in and I grew brave. I watched long… as was my style, and I grew convinced that this one particular bumblebee should become my friend. It was so fuzzy – like a tiny flying stuffed animal – and I was dying to hold it – and pet it – feel its softness – and make it mine to keep as a companion.
I was certain that it would understand me: that it would realize my intent, and feel safe in the knowledge that I would not hurt it.
First I let it crawl upon my finger… and talked to it softly.
I knew then, that I could talk to bees and I was certain it understood.
Then I held it gently cupped in my 7 or 8-year-old hands for the briefest of moments…
I was amazed to hold this tiny creature and feel its softness, and I opened a tiny crack in my fingers to have a peek and whisper my reassurances.
I remember feeling shocked.
A strange combination of betrayal – misunderstanding – and embarrassment at my naivety.
I suspect there was an incredulous pause and gasp before the tears came – and I ran to find my mother to calm me and help me get over the sting.
I don’t remember that I admitted to anyone what I had done… that is until this week, some 40 or so years later, when I shared the story with some colleagues at work – and later on with Craig.
I don’t know what made me think of it… what made me remember and share this childhood sense of self – wrapped up in this little tale – a metaphor of sorts.
I suppose I could frame this as learning about the sting of betrayal – and the risk of trust and naivety – but that is not what speaks to me. Instead, I see it as sweet and charming – and in all honesty, actually quite funny.
I still get stung sometimes.
I am still trusting – and naive – and I take people at face value. I could be tougher and more guarded – but I’d rather get stung now and then than give up that perspective.
As circumstance would have it, a bee flew in the house tonight as I was winding up this post. I told Craig I’d help it make its way back to the outdoors. He isn’t quite as fond of insects as I am.
Relieved, he said, “That’d be great, thanks!”
Then after a pause – he added with a smirk, “Just don’t try to pet it!”
Ya… well, we’ll have to see about that… because in all honesty – a small part of me remains convinced that I can communicate with bees.
I plan to continue to be the kind of person that still ponders and considers the pettablity of a bumblebee… The fact that I want to reach out my hand every time I see one reflects some of the best parts of me and that is made of win!
And for those of you who like the facts… here is a cool article about bumblebees and an interesting fact: did you know they were originally called Humblebees and there is a connection to Darwin?? Check it out: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/aug/01/humblebee-bumblebee-darwin
30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.