So last week I had a day where Chickadee was invited on a last-minute playdate and Monkey was just DYING from the injustice of it. I offered up half a dozen different suggestions of things we could do, just the two of us, without her, but the whining went unabated as he insisted that he NEEEEEEDED some time with his FRIIIIIENDS.
I did what any good mother would do; I called up a fellow mom and invited us over to her house. (Don’t you wish you lived here? I could be eating all the snacks in your pantry RIGHT NOW.) As it happened, they already had an extra boy-child over, so the three of them ran off to play while we moms sat and chatted and drank cold water as the hot breeze puffed in through the screen door.
At some point we shooed the boys outside, but they were nervous about going because there were a couple of carpenter bees buzzing around just outside the door.
“They’re harmless,” my friend told the boys, “they don’t sting, just walk past them.”
“I bet they do!” fretted one boy. “We might make them mad and they just MIGHT bite us!”
“They only bite wood,” I added. “It’s fine, just walk past them and down into the yard.”
Finally we’d managed to get them out the door, and as the trio sidled past the pair of buzzing bees, Monkey declared, “Yeah, it’s okay, guys, they only bite black people!”
*insert sound of a record needle screeching here*
My friend and I looked at each other in horror. Then I looked out at the boys—lily-white, all three of them—tromping down the the deck stairs, and found myself on my feet.
“MONKEY!” He stopped and looked up at me. “Did I just hear you say that the bees only bite black people?? Why on EARTH would you think that?”
He shrugged, patiently enduring my stupidity. “You said the bees like to eat wood. Black people’s skin looks a lot more like wood than ours does.”
There was a reprimand on the tip of my tongue, but you understand that when his response caused me to SWALLOW MY TONGUE WHOLE I could only stagger back into the kitchen and muffle my choking as best I could.
Later, we had a discussion about how male carpenter bees can’t sting at all, females are rarely riled enough to sting, and how comparing people’s skin to wood is not intrinsically bad but could cause some problems down the road, so perhaps we could refrain from doing so in the future.
Besides, I myself am a lovely shade of birch. I hope I don’t get termites.