What We Teach Our Kids

I'm so mystified by the behavior I just saw at our neighborhood pool, that the only way I can reconcile it in my mind is to write about it.

Our pool is about two blocks from our house. Anyone can join, and we've always loved the families we see there each summer.

I was there this afternoon with Kate. Often, in past years, we've witnessed honeybees, and native bees, coming in for drink, only to drown. I showed my kids, early on, that you can put your hand under a drowning bee, lift them up out of the water, and put them on the side of the pool, all without getting stung. I think the bees are so relieved to be out of the water, so concerned with drying off and getting the hell out of there, that they are uninterested in stinging. As long as you are gentle while removing them, there is no problem.

Many times over the years I've shown people at the pool how to do this. Most of them look at me skeptically, and I'm not sure they ever really believe me, but at least they will call me over if there is a drowning bee, and I can get it out if they are uncomfortable with it. If I'm not there, I have no idea what people do. I think, if I were afraid of bees, I would probably find a way to scoop the bee up with some water and throw it over the side. Or maybe I'd just swim away from it. (I'm not sure I could leave any creature struggling in water, but other people might be able to do that.) Today, I witnessed what one man thought was the right solution.

He was in the pool with his two small children. I'm sure he was worried for them. It's possible one has an allergy to bee stings, I don't know. But as I was getting ready to leave, I heard this big, strong, capable man say, oh no, a bee. Then he proceeded to whack it with a foam noodle, several times, and going as far as to say to his son, this is how you kill bees in the water.

I went over and asked if it was a honeybee? He said he had no idea. I said, it could be from my hive... You know, you could cup your hands under the bee and put him on the side, along with the water in your hands. He looked at me like I was crazy. I said, I promise it won't sting you. He said, I'll hold you to that - if it stings me, you're to blame. I said ok. He gingerly did as I said, however throwing the bee hard onto the concrete. It landed on its back. I put a finger down gently and let the bee cling to it. It climbed onto my hand, fanning its wings. The little boy looked at me like I was the bee whisperer. The dad still looked at me like I was nuts. I said, there we go! We rescued a bee. And I said goodbye and walked out the door, still holding it.

As I was leaving, I heard the dad say to his son, don't ever do that, just kill the bee with the noodle.

Now. I understand being afraid of bees. I understand being afraid of bees around your kids. But I don't understand actively teaching your children to kill them. I double don't understand that when someone shows you that you can rescue them safely that you would STILL teach your child to kill bees.

As I've said before, I'm not fond of spiders. In my head I get their importance. But in my little girly heart, they creep me out. In a million years, I would NEVER kill one in front of my kids, instructing them to do the same. Instead, when they were young, I worked very hard at a faked nonchalance and confidently took the spiders outside. Why would we teach our children to fear something so important?

Does this father realize that one out of every three bites he eats is a direct result of a pollinator? What would happen if the bees disappeared? Does one bee even matter? Does one spider matter? Does a creepy beetle? What about a beautiful hawk? I could go on and on and on, but you get the point. This man made me sick. I find his behavior unattractive, ignorant, and sad. I hope his kids get great science teachers, or nature teachers, or go to lots of summer camps, where they can learn how to react differently.