From Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschooler's Soul

Bee Attitude

To be brave is to love someone unconditionally, without expecting anything in return. To just give. That takes courage, because we don’t want to fall on our faces or leave ourselves open to hurt.


“Mommy, Natasha’s in my stuff again!” Cory shouted. “And why does she have to come with us? She’s not old enough to go!”

Dashing around to gather items to teach church day camp, I didn’t have time to referee another stinging argument. I swooped into my five-year-old’s room and retrieved Natasha from a pile of Cory’s Lego creations.

“I’m sorry, Cory, but Daddy’s out of town this week so Natasha has to come with us today. You can play with your friends. You won’t even know that she’s there.” I took Natasha’s hand and led her out of Cory’s room.

As the door closed, I heard Cory whisper, “I wish I didn’t have a sister.”

On the drive to day camp, I mused on my children’s rocky relationship. I had always thought three years would be the perfect spacing between kids. Only one would be in diapers at a time; only one would be getting up at night. But personalities and gender can’t be planned. My spirited, outgoing daughter sometimes overshadowed my sensitive, even-tempered son. As I pulled into the driveway, I whispered a quick prayer for a peaceful morning.

Young campers flitted here and there across the lawn like butterflies. Cory and Natasha seemed to be having a good time as well. I gathered all the children to sit on blankets. After taming their wiggles with a song, I began our Bible lesson.

Suddenly, a little boy jumped up, screaming and writhing in pain. A mom cried out, “Bees! Everyone get into the house.” Chaos erupted as children ran for safety, crying and holding their hands over stings. Stung several times, Cory ran to me, sobbing uncontrollably. As I tried to comfort him and usher him along with the other children, someone yelled, “Natasha’s still out there!”

A glance over my shoulder showed my young daughter stuck in a swarm of angry bees. She screamed and flailed her little hands, but remained frozen in her spot. Not wanting to leave Cory, I frantically called to another mom who raced back and carried Natasha to safety.

Once inside, we surveyed the damages, counted stings, applied medicine and soothed emotions. Everyone would be okay.

That weekend, when my husband arrived home from his trip, I told him about our traumatic afternoon, describing how I had looked up and seen Natasha trapped in the middle of the bees.

Cory clamped his hands over his ears and sobbed, “Don’t talk about it!”

I pulled him close and whispered, “It’s okay. You’re safe. There aren’t any bees here.” My husband and I locked eyes in a silent message of concern.

But Cory pulled back from me. “No, Mommy, no.” He shook his head adamantly. “I wish it was me.” Tears streamed down his face. “I wish it’d been me out there in the bees instead of Natasha!”

And I suddenly recognized that deep inside the heart of my son, a beautiful and sacrificial love for his sister was growing. That’s all a mother can hope for.

Andrea Stark

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