It’s pretty rare that I get to pick Chooch up from school because of my work schedule, but since I was off on Friday, I got to stand awkwardly in front of the school with all the parents who like to stare at me because I must have some blinding aura emanating from my body, alerting them to my motherfucker ways. I mostly just ignore it and pretend like something really interesting is happening on my phone. Make them think I’m important!
Chooch was really excited for two reasons: he didn’t have to go to the after school program (which he actually likes but who wants to hang around school any longer than they have to?) and he knew that Bill, Jessi and Tammy were en route from Detroit(-ish area).
He gave me a hug (for show, trust me), and then immediately started with the inquiries and whininess.
“ARE THEY HERE YET? WHEN? ARE THEY BRINGING ME PRESENTS!?”
“Don’t be rude!” I snapped, because while Chooch is surprisingly pretty good at not being a total spoiled brat, he does sometimes focus too much on “presents” and “things” and “money” which I know is probably normal for an 8-year-old but motherfuck, that shit is grating.
We were still on school property when this conversation began to escalate, and just as we rounded the corner by the crossing guard, he stopped dead in his tracks, puckered up his face, and burst into tears.
“Oh my fucking god,” I hissed. “Don’t you even start!” thinking that he was being a crybaby because I wouldn’t tell him if he was getting presents or not. I mean, his birthday party was the next day, and the last time I checked, presents are given at those things, so STFU.
But then I noticed that these weren’t crocodile tears. He was slightly slumped over, hugging himself like he had just been punched in the gut. What did I miss?! We were walking and everything was fine until it inexplicably was no longer fine. I had no idea what was happening, but I made sure to raise my hands up in an “I didn’t do it!” motion because there were parents and teachers EVERYWHERE. I’m slightly afflicted by something that I like to call the Stonick Syndrome, which was ingrained into me after an entire childhood of hearing my grandma cry, “What will the neighbors think?!” over any tiny thing that might chip her porcelain perfection (babies out of wedlock, a fat granddaughter, weeds in the garden, a car more than three years old, etc.). No matter how hard I try to stay chill and maintain a “who gives a fuck” veneer, I can’t always fight the Stonick in me and my synapses are secretly firing “HEADS UP: PEOPLE ARE LOOKING AT YOU” warnings into every lobe of my dumb brain. To be honest, I don’t really think that very many people were rubber-necking. I mean, Chooch was doing a good job of not getting full-on Erin Rachelle Kelly with the histrionics, so aside from his tears and beet-red face, he wasn’t exactly drawing a crowd of gawking bystanders. Except that in front of us was this mom who reminds Chooch of Antoine Dodson, the Bedroom Intruder guy, so every time he sees her, he starts quietly singing, “He’s climbing in yo’ window, snatching your people up….”
She was definitely looking.
I had no idea what was going on. I kept asking Chooch but he just stared back at me with this awful look of anguish twisted upon his face. Then I saw him pull his shirt away from his chest and swat at something which whizzed away in response.
A bee. OK, he was stung by a bee and not assaulted by something that the Winchester’s are hunting. But then I remembered that he had never been stung by a bee before.
So instead of taking my child into my arms and soothing him with my maternal embrace, I froze. He’s standing there in so much pain that he can barely talk, and I’m like, “Fuck, I wasn’t prepared for this.” And then flashes of My Girl go through my mind and I’m like, “Fuck2, please don’t be allergic!”
(Which is kind of funny because Anna Chlumsky had a small role in “Hannibal”, which I was catching up on last week and thought to myself, “I totally forgot that My Girl broad existed.” Touché, UNIVERSE.)
I tried not to panic in front of him and kept robotically saying things like “It.is.OK.child.” and “You.are.not.going.to.die.” and “Beep.beep.Mom.Powers.Activate.” while frantically dialing and redialing Henry’s stupid number because I CAN’T HANDLE THIS OMG IS MY KID GOING TO DIE!? Honestly, I was freaked out. If I was smart, I would have just pushed him right back inside the school and made the damn nurse deal with it, but instead, I forced my Jello-legs to walk and gave him flat pep talks for the three blocks back to our house. Meanwhile, Henry finally answered and calmly asked me questions that I couldn’t answer because my brain was swelling inside my head and pouring out of my ears because if any one is allergic to anything, it’s me and parental responsibility. Oh, the horror of having to actually put on my mom jeans and save my kid with whatever that shit was in the bathroom closet that Henry told me to spray on the bee sting. So now, in the eyes of the pitch-forked parents that are always holographed in my imagination, it appears like I’m walking down the sidewalk while my son is very visibly suffering from some sort of trauma that I definitely inflicted with my own hand and don’t mind me, I’m just over here ignoring him while casually talking to my girlfriend on the phone about our stories. “OMG and then Hope found out Bo is actually her brother who is actually a little person living inside of an animatronic body cavity….”
Because that’s totally how it looked. NOTHING TO SEE HERE, CARS DOING 10 MPH PAST US IN THE SCHOOL ZONE.
Somehow we made it home without falling into the jaws of a shark or being twerked on by Miley Cyrus, but not before walking past our neighbor and getting the hairy eyeball from her because yes, I pushed my kid into a bee hive. I can’t help it! It’s what I do.
See? Stonick Syndrome. It’s always waiting to surface. WHAT WILL THE NEIGHBORS THINK.
“Did you get the stinger out?” Henry asked in a follow-up phone conversation because I had hung up on him after I got the initial info I needed. There is no need for exit salutations. It’s “end call” for me and that’s it. You want a “goodbye I love you”? Go get it from your mama, Henry.
“The what now?” I asked dimly. And he explained to me that it was important to get the stinger out but I didn’t see anything jutting out of Chooch’s flesh so one less thing for my fake-Mom persona to do, I guess.
Please don’t think Chooch had quieted down during his visit with Half-Assed Nurse Erin. No, he was wailing “WHYYYYYY?!” over and over as I spritzed him with whatever that shit* was that Henry made me dig around the bathroom closet for. OK, Nancy Kerrigan! A little louder in case the neighbors didn’t hear.
*(It started with a b….bleach? No, that’s not it.)
By the time Bill, Jessi and Tammy got there that evening, the bee sting had swelled to the size of Jonny Craig’s left hand tattoo. Oh my god, you guys are so stupid, JUST FORGET IT. It had swelled to the size of A SAUCER, ok? Is that better?! Should I sketch it out for you? I would post a picture but I’m not trying to get child services sicced on me again, and also, I didn’t take a picture.
In addition to being the size of Jonny Cra—-a saucer, the wound was deep maroon with raised edges. It looked totally deadly and I was like, “Are we sure he’s not allergic?” while waiting for a legion of baby spiders to burst out of the center. Henry, who had apparently asked Google, assured me that we would have found out immediately if he was allergic.
We talked about stingers some more and Tammy told us that you can use a potato slice to draw the stinger out and for some reason, this home remedy tip irritated Bill, who apparently only believes in the miracle of modern medicine and not Granny’s pantry, so now I hope he gets stung by a bee and the only one there to save him is Tammy and a good ol’ Idaho tater.
It was even bigger the next day (I don’t know, salad plate-sized) and Chooch said it was actually painful to be too active, so I was worried about his birthday party. But he still ran around like a feral dog and took great pleasure in showing his battle wound to all of his friends. And then he spent the rest of the weekend obsessing about bees and bee stings and Googling other insects that sting and watching YouTube videos of people getting stung by things and basically becoming hyper-aware of every single thing around him. We went to the cemetery on Mother’s Day and he straight up whimpered when he saw something flap past his face. It was a fly.
He’s even reached a point where he’s psycho-analyzing the situation, wondering why the bee chose to sting him. Why didn’t the bee like him? What did he ever do to the bee? I told him that I used to save bees from drowning in my Pappap’s pool when I was a kid so they never sting me and he was like “Oh, aren’t you a peach. Shut up.”
It seems like it’s always Chooch and me versus something, isn’t it? Anyway, I would be remiss not to chronicle this totally dramatic tale here, because it’s a first and isn’t that what parents do? Keep a log of their kids’ firsts? First bee sting: Friday, May 9, 2014. Boom. Done.