I took Violet for a walk and passed by an Autumn Olive shrub, it’s branches full of blossoms and bees. We stopped to watch them, the flowers and the insects, the nervous part of me worried that a bee might decide to sting Violet, and the naturalist part reminding me that bees rarely sting without reason. They were busy collecting nectar, and from the bulging pollen pouches on their back legs, they were collecting pollen, too; they had too much on their insect agendas to bother with us. So we watched and they worked. Violet’s eyes would wander until they came across a bee crawling into view from behind a leaf or a petal, and then her baby blues would lock on and stare. The bee would crawl out of sight, and her eyes would begin wandering again, until they found another. A moment later, a bee flew into the shrub from over my shoulder, coming close, with a buzz both loud and low. Violet’s head immediately turned in the direction of the sound, her eyes searching, and a look on her face that appeared nervous. A moment later, another bee left the shrub, also flying close, and Violet repeated her movements. Her nervous glances didn’t last long, but they left me questioning if she was afraid of the sound. Since she’s never received a sting, and she’s probably too young to remember it even if she had, was her fear innate? I know some people have displayed fears of snakes and spiders at a very young age, with no traumatic experience attached, leading some psychologists to study the phenomena and determine that some people are born with these fears already dwelling within them (according to the research, girls, more so than boys, arrive with the fear of spiders already installed). Some research on my part found no studies supporting inborn apiphobia (fear of bees) in people, and I found this fact reassuring. I’ve worked with kids a long time, and it disheartens me to see children afraid of bugs, spiders, snakes, and the like, especially because we are fortunate enough to live in an area with an abundance of fascinating creatures and an extremely small number of truly dangerous animals, and those that are found here are rarely encountered and easily avoided. While some of these fears are inborn, it’s more often the case that these fears are learned by example. Children see how those around them react to a snake or a bee, and they follow suit. I’ll do my best to make sure Violet’s curiosity is piqued rather then her fear, and I know Linda plans on downplaying her fear of spiders as much as possible. If someday Violet should find a big, fat garden spider weaving a web across her path, and instead of screaming or plotting its death, she pauses to admire its handiwork and the delicate pattern of yellow and black on its abdomen (followed by, I hope, a run to look it up in her field guide), then I’ll consider us successful parents in at least one area. So, what about Violet’s apparent fear of bees? My best guess is that the sound of the bee startled her. The depth and the volume of the buzz was unlike anything she’s heard, so maybe it made her uneasy. It’s her first spring and her first bee encounter, but these won’t be her last. She’ll soon be used to the sound.
188 days old