The Boys Who Stomped a Hornets’ Nest

European hornet with the remnants of a honey bee

European hornet with the remnants of a honey bee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’ve never been stung by a hornet, consider yourself lucky. Because each sting is like the prick of a needle followed by the sensation of molten lava bubbling beneath your skin as it spreads out setting fire to everything in its path. And then it gets painful.

As you can tell, we weren’t fortunate this weekend. We were closing what had been a fabulous weekend.

Let me start our story with a brief history:

Every year for the past 3 years my husband has taken a daddy-and-me date with each of the boys which makes room for me to have a mommy-and-me date with them too. A whole weekend, one on one, of Daddy’s or Mommy’s undivided attention.

Hubby took our oldest to Chicago for Comic Con. They went to the Field Museum of Natural History and saw T-Rex Sue. They went to the Lego store and grew his mini-figure collection. He had the chance to ride on the top deck of a double deck bus. And they visited with friends.

The youngest stayed home with me. We went to the movies and watched SMURFS 2. We ate at the restaurants of his choice and he didn’t have to negotiate with his brother. (In case you didn’t know, Taco Bell is a restaurant). We also managed to make it to an end-of-summer / housewarming party for some friends. He was allowed to spend his money after being in what I call a “spending freeze” for several months.

So what could be a better way to end this memory-making-happy-fest? Lunch by the river with friends? Yes … we thought so too. And that’s what we did. 

Our dudes were happy hanging out with their friends. Splashing at the water’s edge. Playing in the woods. Exploring and having adventures. Laughing and shouting with joy like only children can.

Until that moment when they kicked a log and stomped through the hornets’ nest.

We warned them to be careful and watch for poison ivy but we should have warned them of something else, something far worse.

I’ve yet to experience anything more overwhelming as a parent than watching my dudes careening toward me, in real and imminent danger, wearing the face of true terror, and bathed in black and yellow fury. Swarmed.

9YO: They’re gonna get me.
Me: Let me help you. Take your shirt off.
9YO: No, then they’ll KILL me.
Me: They’re on your shirt and I can’t get them off you unless you take the shirt off.

Stinger of an european hornet (V. crabro), whi...

But I had no idea how to help or protect my boys. In my ignorance, I assumed hornets were like bees, sting and die. Nope. Their sticky little bullet shaped hornets’ bodies clung to our kids’ clothes and hair; repeatedly stinging.

And buzzing is not the dull hum of day to day life in a hive or colony as you see in documentaries. Buzzing is a collective voice of ferocity, shouting:

  • Who do you think you are?” and
  • How dare you?” and
  • I’ll show you.”

And show us they did. Punishment, plain and simple, doled out for invading their privacy; for disturbing their home.

Not knowing if they were allergic, I gave my little ones Benadryl (which I always have with me) and we took them to the ER. The entire car ride they were distraught with their suffering:

9YO: It’s all my fault brother got hurt.
Me: No, it’s not. It’s nobody’s fault.
9YO: Yes, it is because if I hadn’t gone exploring, brother wouldn’t have gone exploring.
Me: It’s still not your fault.
6YO: When’s it going to stop hurting?
Me: I don’t know, but Momma’s here.
6YO: It hurts so much. My arms. When’s it going to stop?
9YO: Oh, I hurt my brother.
Me: Please calm down.
9YO: Don’t say that to me.
Me: You’re right. I just need to make sure you aren’t having a reaction. It’s easier to do if you’re not screaming.
6YO: Are they gonna give me a shot?
Hubby: No, they won’t give you a shot. You’ve been stung enough times today.
9YO: Mommy, just promise me I won’t die.
9YO and 6YO screaming and crying in agony!

At the hospital, they took us right in. They gave them each a dose of steroids to stop the inflammation and Tylenol to alleviate the pain. Thankfully! Then both boys dozed off and slept for a few hours.

hornet

hornet (Photo credit: beckymaldonado)

Physically, dudes seem to be better. Minor itching and discomfort.

Now my outdoorsmen are done with nature. My dudes, who just a few weeks ago were chasing fireflies and giggling with delight, are shaking with fear at the mention of leaving the safety of our 4 walls. They are unwilling to be out of doors longer than what’s necessary.

Racing to the car as we head out in the morning, is no longer a playful act or friendly competition between brothers. Instead it’s a matter of survival.

9YO: Don’t make me go outside until I’m mentally ready.
Me: Okay. Fair enough.

How do you respond to that?

Hornet

We all sustained injury but the youngest got the worst of it. He’s chosen to believe that hornets don’t live in the city we live in despite my telling him it’s possible. Maybe he’s in denial.

My oldest is in avoidance mode. But I don’t want them to be afraid.

I know they’re traumatized. So I’ll watch and wait … Because forcing them outside at this point would be like stirring up a hornets’ nest. (Pun intended).

I’m open to suggestions that may help little people adjust. Feel free to throw advice my way!

Photos from Zemanta via WordPress

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Summer Swan Song

Dear Summer,

Thank you so much for coming to visit. It seems like just yesterday that you arrived.

I am sad to say it but, farewell fun in the sun, fireworks, and family picnics. So long to sipping lemonade, sleeping in, and slip-n-slides. Goodbye going to the park, pool parties, and play-dates. Your favorite activities will be left behind and the playgrounds will be abandoned for a while.

But, we enjoyed our time with you. There are so many wonderful memories. Don’t worry, I’ve enclosed pictures for you.

Remember all the walking we did in the Las Vegas heat. And the littlest dude was sick with strep. That part wasn’t fun but we made up for it by eating well the rest of the trip. The fast food tour of the West coast was worth it.

I loved seeing the family for the first time in five years. WOW. How everyone has grown? Me a little wider. LOL. It was nice to sit and reminisce about childhood. Celebrate graduations and the next phase of life. Soak up some vitamin D on the front porch with you.

I’m so thankful that we were able to stay up late and sleep in. No where to hurry off to. People talk about lazy days and stopping to smell the roses (as the expression goes). Such beautiful blooms to admire, it was wonderful to stop and smell them along the way.

What fun it was to see the sights. Play tourist and buy souvenirs. Like trips to the USMC base, Camp Pendleton, to see the helicopters; the LEGO store; and the children’s museum in San Diego. Imagine an exhibit on garbage and recycling. We learned a lot about taking care of our planet because of it. We won’t forget our time together in California.

The thing I love about you, Summer, is the meals we share. We had a lot of great gatherings; breaking bread and catching up with all of our friends. Chicken and burgers on the grill; fresh fruit; ice cream … making s’mores over an open fire while watching the sunset … all of your favorite smells and flavors.

We read lots of great new chapter books with the boys. And they did some reading on their own which makes me smile. I’m glad it wasn’t all video games and movies. They managed to unplug a little bit too.

We will cherish the laughter and the tears of our trip to Chicago for Comic Con and LEGOLAND Discovery Center. Two LEGO locations, in two different states, during your visit; how funny.

I admit that it wasn’t all good times. There were those moments we had to say goodbye, not like I’m saying goodbye to you now, but final goodbyes to life long friends. People who lived full lives and people who were taken too young. Thankfully, you were here and, we could comfort one another which made it bearable.

Another one of my regrets is that we didn’t really make it to the beach. We drove by several while on vacation, but our feet never touched the sand; our toes never tested the water. Oh well, maybe next time you’re in town we can make that happen.

Thank you for helping us make the most of the season. Now we have new stories to tell; to hold us over until next year. Summer, it’s always hard saying goodbye. We wish you didn’t have to go but it’s time for the boys to go back to school and the rest of us to fall back into our routine.

We’ll miss you … Please take care until we see one another again.

Love Always,
Gail

PS. Next year come a little earlier and stay a lot longer.

Postcards from Chicago: The Comic Con Event I Missed

Chicago Skyline 2008

Chicago Skyline 2008 (Photo credit: TomC)

We’ve been planning this trip since last year when my husband took my oldest on a “Daddy & Me” date to Comic Con 2011 in Chicago.

They had so much fun we though it would be a great 2012 family getaway. You know, one last hoorah before school starts. One last weekend road trip to bid farewell to summer. But it didn’t happen the way I envisioned, the way we talked about it.

Why?

Well first off, it was a gray cold rainy day. And then there was the fender bender with a black SUV. Maybe it’s payback for a certain post relative to a black SUV.  But I don’t believe in karma. Or maybe it was the mix up with our room reservation where they only had single king beds left when we reserved a two bedroom.

Maybe I’ve mentioned before that my youngest is petrified of people in costume? I believe I briefly talked about an incident with Ms. Green M&M at the M&M store in Las Vegas?

And the very heart of Comic Con … the fun of it … is seeing the fans and enthusiasts dressed as their favorite characters. But for my littlest dude it would wreak havoc on his fragile psyche… it would be a fear filled emotional experience. Forcing him to attend would equate to zero enjoyment for the family.

So we decided that Comic Con 2012 would remain a “Daddy & Me” date for my husband and oldest son. However, we will all traverse to The Windy City together.

Dare I say I am disappointed about not getting to attend the main event:  Wizard World Convention – Comic Con 2012. Sigh. So much for getting my geek girl on.

“How’d I spend my time?” you might ask.

Having a “Mommy & Me” date, which included lounging in our lovely hotel room with a 5 (and a half or is it two-thirds) year old. We watched movies, played Nintendo 3DS, and ate snacks that aren’t particularly good for us. I also had the chance to read and write and rest. Not a bad way to spend a day.

And we managed to do some family fun things as a whole. We went to the LEGOLAND to indulge the boys’ current obsessions. We ate at the Cheesecake Factory to indulge one of my obsessions:  Dulce De Leche Caramel Cheesecake (Sorry I didn’t get photos of it but trust me it was good. I did get a picture of my Over the Top Meatloaf Sandwich.)

Keep in mind though that the trip to LEGOLAND ended much like our trip to the M&M store in Las Vegas i.e. with a little one scream for an exiting. Blaming us for not knowing about the mascot which was celebrating his 4th birthday and making a special appearance. Don’t’ get me wrong there were some really cool things to see there:

The important thing is that we found ways to connect as a family. It really isn’t about what we did but the fact that we did it together.

We listened to the sounds of the city, the hustle and bustle of the people, the airplanes taking off from O’Hare and cabs zooming to and from. We enjoyed the smooth silver buildings against the golden sunset.

I hated the traffic and having to drive through the city but all in all a wonderful trip … I love Chicago for its fast pace, shopping and food, and gorgeous skyline. Next year I hope to add Comic Con to the list of Chi-Town loves.