The boys and the bees

29 Jul

When I got home from work on Tuesday, my younger son James greeted me at the front door with a blue face. It wasn’t that he had used his face as a Magic Marker canvas.  It wasn’t that he’d eaten a cupcake with blue icing, resulting in blue smudges around the mouth.  It was that he’d been on a field trip to the park and had his face painted as Blue, of Blues Clues fame.  It looked really cute, but it can be disconcerting to get home and find your second-born looking like a goofy psychadelic blue dog.

About half an hour later, James got tired of having a blue face, and he asked me to wipe it clean for him. I checked on George, who was running around in the back yard, and then, armed with a wet cloth and a four-year-old, I sat on the couch. I’d gotten about halfway through the clean-up job – meaning that James now looked even weirder than he had to begin with – when I heard a shrill scream coming from outside.

Seconds later, George came tearing into the house and launched himself onto the couch, still screaming.  I was suitably alarmed.  My husband flew out into the back yard to make sure there were no psychopaths lurking there, and I started checking my son for blood and broken bones.  Initially I didn’t see anything wrong, and the only indication of a problem was George’s ear-splitting screaming and frantic hand-flapping.  I tried to ask him what was wrong, but I didn’t really expect an answer out of him. Child with autism, limited verbal skills at the best of times, and in an absolute state – talking was not going to happen.

Suddenly he started scratching his legs frantically, almost manically. He scratched so hard that he actually drew blood.  That’s when I saw the bee stings – two of them, one on each leg. His first bee stings – no wonder the poor child was so upset.  I’ve tried to teach him basic safety, of course, but I’ve focused on things that posed an immediate threat. Crossing the road without looking. Touching a hot stove. Stranger danger. Internet safety. Somehow, the subject of bee stings has never really been a priority.  And so, in his understanding, he was playing outside and suddenly experienced unexplained pain in both legs. Add to that the physical hypersensitivity that is part and parcel of his autism, and we have a picture that is not at all pretty.

I did the same thing I always do when George is freaked out about something.  I opened my arms and wrapped George in the biggest hug I could. My heart twists when either of my kids is in pain, and sometimes a hug is the only thing that will help them. In the case of George, the deep pressure of a hug is physically soothing.  It makes him feel grounded and secure; it helps the panic abate.

Little by little, the screams got softer and then petered out. The crying was gradually replaced with quietness punctuated by an occasional sniffle. George was still trying to scratch his legs, so I didn’t release my hold on him.  A bottle of anti-itch lotion appeared from somewhere. I applied it, which involved a whole new struggle. In the meantime, James, who had initially been a bit put out by the abrupt shift in attention, declared that he was the doctor and he would take care of George. He’s very sweet that way, James is. When George is upset, James always wants an active part in caring for his brother.

Later in the evening, when relative calm had returned to the household, I was moving around the kitchen in a bit of a trance, preparing dinner and lunches for the following day.  I was startled out of my reverie by a loud clatter-bang-bash-shriek coming from the direction of the stairs.  Initially I thought one of the kids had accidentally dropped something down the stairs.  It wouldn’t be the first time: on many occasions, we have discovered that Lego or Thomas the Train characters make a very loud noise when dropped down a set of hardwood stairs.  This time, however, the howls of outrage were my first clue that something was wrong.

It was James. He had tried to bring down the stairs, in one go, Lightning McQueen, Doc Hudson, Mack, Sally, Mater, the Sheriff, Fillmore, and the Dinoco helicopter (anyone with a son under the age of ten will know who these are and what James’ current obsession is).  Because he was carrying so much stuff, he was not able to hold the handrail, and because he was wearing socks, he slipped on the hardwood.

At the end of the day, both of my boys were fine.  George wasn’t allergic to bees and James didn’t have any broken bones.  The only real casualties – apart from the bees that died while stinging George – were my nerves and my blood pressure.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: