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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