Equality for all, even the deck

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.


  1. Heather

    Oh man! Well I’m glad you asked WHY he said that. Wow. Very funny but a little terrifying at first heh.

  2. All Adither

    And I am a gleaming ash. I wish.

  3. April

    The ads that Google brought up to tie in w/ your post: Bee Removal Services, African American Moms, beekeeper services, and stop puppy biting make this post all the more amusing!

  4. Ladybug Crossing

    I’m going to end up with carpenter ants and termites… I’m a lovely shade of white pine.

  5. Crisanne

    Ahhh, what logic!

    You’ve got a Google ad in the sidebar that says (Stop) Puppy Biting-in case you were worried they were encouraging puppy bites. :)

  6. Dee

    Ahahahaha, this is golden. Monkey is awesome.

  7. Dani

    Don’t you just LOVE when they do that in front of other people?!?!

    Sounds like you handled it splendidly.

  8. Woman with Kids

    Oh my goodness, what a clever Monkey he is! I myself am a lovely shade of birch, changing only to late fall leaves when in the sun

  9. Jamie

    Gotta love kids. My younger son calls black people “chocolate labs” because we have a chocolate lab and he somehow connects the 2.

  10. DBN

    At least his logic makes some sort of sense and he didn’t learn that from someone at school!

    I hate those stupid bees. They swarm our deck every year.

  11. Cheryl

    I would have died and become worm food on the spot. It’s amazing the things kids come up with.

  12. Heidi

    How to house train puppies and them to quit biting–how did Google come up with those? Why not housetrained and non-biting Monkeys?

  13. Megan

    Monkey’s point being that ALL BEES BITE PEOPLE and even if you claim they only bite wood that’s contradicting the main point about the evil, evil nature of bees.

  14. Heather Cook


    Oh, sorry, but that was funny!

    I think I’m more a cedar colour actually.

  15. Burgh Baby's Mom

    Well, I’m a lovely shade of Maple myself, so it’s all good.

  16. Wendalette

    I’m somewhere between cedar and mahogany, I think.

    Situations like that totally didn’t happen in our family when my brother and I were kids. All our friends called themselves black, white or yellow, etc., but my brother and I, being children of an artist used precision description, much to the dismay and puzzlement of all others.

    Thus we had peach and pink playmates, honey homies, and brown and beige buddies, knew khaki kids and caramel or coffee children and were rough and tumble with raw sienna rascals.

    Their parents thought we were weird. Harmless, but a little strange.


  17. LuAnn

    I think you handled that well.

  18. colleen

    This is similar to my son’s answer to a test question when he was being tested for Asperger’s when he was 5, “How do you know if someone is bright?” His answer, ‘their skin is white’. She asked him why, and he answered, “If they are black, they are not very bright.” After the school psychologist stopped choking, she asked Why? “Because everyone knows white reflects light, while black absorbs it.”

    During the same test, the tester read a story about exploring caves, and he had to answer questions. One was how did they find their way back out. He said they tied a string to a piece of meat. She asked what do you mean meat? What type of meat? He said “Ham, I think; or maybe roast beef. But I don’t know how they keep wild animals from eating it.” It turned out they tied a string to a STAKE outside the cave, and followed it back out (not a steak like he thought).

    He still takes everything very literally :-).

  19. Ramblin'Red

    Ok…now I’m torn as to whose story is funnier – yours or Colleen’s….both of them are riots.

  20. Flea

    A friend of ours, growing up, would catch carpenter drones and tie thread around their middles. He handed one to my baby brother, leaving the bee to fly at adult eye level. Very cool. Same guy who could call alligators.

  21. Shannon

    Ha, I believe I’m a birch myself.

    And yeah you are a good mom for letting him see his friiiiends and not just telling him that if he is bored you could find some nice chores for him to do. Funny how that is the first thing that pops into my head, wonder if my mom ever used that one. ;)

  22. MomCat

    You know that sticky goo that oozes out of a milkweed when you break it? That’d be me.

    Ah, the literal phase. So fleeting!

  23. Brigitte

    Guess I’ll be a little less leery of my parents’ back deck now!

    Monkey must be thinking of stained wood, or wood with the bark still on it, because all the raw lumber I see is awfully pale!

  24. Ani

    Our deck is stained an orangey-red that was supposed to be “redwood”. (and is more like orange-wood…)

    Guess the Washington Redskins will have to stay away. :-)

  25. Joann

    I picked up a dead carpenter bee once when I was five. Did you know that dead bees can still sting?

  26. Aimee

    Oh no… the horror! I’m glad you asked him to explain. I, too, am a lovely shade of birch. Except when out in the sun too much, in which case I look more like a maple in the fall. Ouchies.

    Wendalette — that is awesome!

  27. elizabeth

    oh, my, I would have totally died on the spot. You handled it very well. Kids say the darndest things. or did some one already say that once?

  28. Lulu

    reminds me of that joke about a beech tree and a birch tree arguing in the woods about whether the seedling growing between them was a son of a beech or a son of a birch…but y’all have probably all heard it before.

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