The sharp, stunning sting of a bee seems a rite of passage of childhood. Bodie had yet to experience this uniquely shocking moment. Until today.
Well, at least that’s at first what I assumed it was when he first screamed from the garden while he was helping Tom to water the plants. The familiar sharp shriek is clearly distinguishable from other cries unburdened with pain and fear. I ran from the kitchen to find out what had happened. Like any good mother, the 30 seconds it took me to get from the kitchen to the garden were rife with images of blood and hatched plans involving towels, pressure and an ambulance.
I, instead, found my child standing in the middle of the garden, in one hand a limp garden hose dousing nearby shrubs, tears streaming down his face, and a fantastic tale already hatching.
“A GIANT STING BUG, MAMA!” he wailed. “HE STUNG ME!”
Sure enough, I could see the pinprick of a stinger just above his left eye. I whisked him into the kitchen with more drama that the situation called for, and began to treat the wound, somehow comforted in the utility of my role, however overblown.
As we applied ice and a topical, organic antihistamine that surely can only be sourced in the few co-operative-loving, nuclear-free zones in the U.S. like Takoma Park, the story of the encounter with the sting bug began to grow.
“It had EIGHT legs!” Bodie proclaimed, at which point I knew the situation had downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical depression. “And it had wings like bat!”
“It was a big as a bicycle!” he said with full conviction. “But it had a little mouth,” Bodie said, adding the probable to make the improbable seem plausible.
It occurred to me that his storytelling was helping to ease his pain, but I also questioned the wisdom of encouraging his fabrications. At what point does stimulating imagination become encouraging lying?
I erred on the side of imagination and fed the flames.
“What color was it?” I said in exaggerated tones. “BLACK! And RED! And GREEN!” he exclaimed.
While it’s entirely possible in Africa that Bodie was stung by a black, red and green bug the size of a bicycle, I assumed it was more akin to the standard American bumble bee and decided that as long as his imagination distracted him from the pain above his eye, I had made the right parenting decision to encourage his imagination and allow the pain to become epic only in the re-telling.