I have become a bit of a basket-case lately. I have started obsessing about the dangers lurking everywhere. I’m like a broken record saying things like, “Wear your helmet. Hold my hand in the parking lot. Cross the street together. Don’t climb the wall…” I see posts on Facebook about children that have been killed in freak accidents. I read blog posts about tragic allergic reactions that weren’t treated in time. Now, with summer here, I am constantly bombarded by warnings about drowning and secondary drowning – because regular drowning isn’t scary enough.
Yes, I have become a worried mother hen. The events of yesterday did nothing to dispel my new obsession. We were enjoying one of our family walks – something we do several times a week. There is a beautifully maintained trail near our house, and we like to walk a 2 mile section of it, letting the kids and dog run around, and get some fresh air. Recently the kids have started going off trail and bounding through the bushes and wildflowers. Last evening, as we were halfway through our walk, the kids were doing their usual off-trail adventuring, when suddenly Karis screamed. Karis screams a lot, so we weren’t alarmed at first. She screams if she sees an ant or God forbid, a SPIDER! Well, she screamed again. Then Brecken screamed. Their screams were really more shrill shrieks. They do this thing sometimes where they try to out-shriek each other. Still, I wasn’t worried, but I turned to see what they were shrieking about.
They were standing side by side up against a big bush. The little dirt trail they had been following between the bushes was only big enough for them to walk single file, and Karis was blocking the way. They were standing still. Karis would shriek, then Brecken would shriek back, causing Karis to shriek louder, causing Brecken to grow more panicked. I realized there was something wrong, but couldn’t tell what it was. “Get out of there!” I yelled. But Karis wouldn’t move. I got the sudden idea that there was a snake or something blocking the way and she was too scared to move, so I hollered at Jesse, “Go get them!” Jesse had come to the same realization that something was very wrong, and ran over to them. They had upset a bee hive, and were being swarmed. We couldn’t see the bees from the trail, and Jesse didn’t realize the problem until he was right next to the kids. There were bees everywhere – in their clothes, stuck in Karis’s long hair, whizzing past their faces like little kamikaze pilots. Jesse was using the dog leash to whip at the bees. When Karis made it back onto the trail proper she was hysterical. There were a few bees clinging to her dress, and several more darting through the air around us. I batted them away, then grabbed Karis by the arm and told her to run. We could deal with the clingers on when we were safely away from the hive – I didn’t want the baby to get stung while we flailed around next to the angry swarm.
When we were a safe distance away we stopped to check Karis’s hair. Jesse was a little way behind us trying to help Brecken. Both kids were in tears, Brecken crying in pain, Karis screaming in hysterics. This is horrible of me to say, but I totally understand why people backhand hysterical women in the old movies. I almost had to shake her to get her to calm down. I know she’s just a little kid, and she was terrified, and when you’re that upset you aren’t rational, but knowing these things logically doesn’t equate to me empathizing with a hysterical person.
Karis was wriggling around, whipping her hair back and forth and screaming, “They’re stuck in my hair! It’s in my hair!” I couldn’t see any bees on her or in her hair. I said, “Point to where it hurts.” and she pointed to the back of her skull. I pulled apart her hair and sure enough, there was a bee stuck in there. Well, there was half a bee stuck in there. The other half of him was sticking out of her scalp. Jesse picked the still-moving bee head and thorax out of her tangled hair while I removed the stinger. “Does it hurt anywhere else?” I asked her. She seemed confused, but couldn’t pinpoint anymore areas of concern.
We walked a little farther. There was no help for it – we had to continue toward home. I checked Brecken for signs of anaphylaxis. I hadn’t really gotten to see how bad off he was yet. I looked him over. He had a stinger still embedded in his neck just under his jaw. He was distraught and wouldn’t let me near it. Jesse held him still and I pulled out the stinger. I asked him where else it hurt, but he couldn’t specify – and no wonder; the poor boy was covered in bee stings!
We hurried home, Jesse walking with Brecken, and me holding hands with Karis as I pushed the stroller. Karis was clearly traumatized. She kept starting at perceived threats. Every now and then she would shake her head violently, or freak out at the touch of her hem against her leg. I tried to reason with her and reassure her that there were no more bees on her, but I might as well have been talking to a wall. Around ten minutes after the attack I called my mom. I wanted to double check my assumption that a severe allergic reaction would have happened by now. She had me re-check the kids for any swelling of the lips and ease of breathing. If they seem okay over ten minutes after the sting, they are most likely going to be fine.
When we got home I stripped them down and did a stinger check. Karis only had the one sting to the back of her head. Poor Brecken on the other hand had ten stings! His forehead, the back of his head, his neck, his shoulder, his arm, under his arm, his ribcage. He had three additional stingers I had to remove. I gave them Benadryl and put them in the tub. After Jesse scrubbed them I put a paste of bakingsoda and water on Brecken’s stings.
The baby was totally patient and calm throughout this whole ugly ordeal. That’s probably because she’s never watched My Girl and witnessed a scrawny Macaulay Culkin die a horrible death by wasp.
After the kids were nestled snug in their beds I allowed myself a quiet moment of gratitude. Life is precious. No one is promised tomorrow. That said, I really need to shake this constant worrying and enjoy the present.