Monday, August 08, 2005

Stop This Crazy Sting

We bought a Rainbow swingset for the boys, some assembly required. For an ex-carpenter, buying a set like this is a direct assault on my manhood, sort of like getting passed on the freeway (it's a guy thing). There isn't a whole lot to it, simple construction techniques that any do-it-yourselfer could put together on his own. But according to Rainbow's literature, using their product is the environmentally safe choice because they use America's greatest renewable resource: wood! Hold on, I have to get a tissue to dab my eyes.

So I went on Saturday to pick it up in my gas guzzling Ford Expedition. Nobody but an office admin works on the weekends, so I had to load the pieces myself. I was led into the back lot where a large pile of various length redwood timber laid in an enormous pile, along with two four-by-six preconstructed panels, boxes of nuts and bolts, a couple lengths of chain, a tire swing wrapped in plastic, and a ten foot, half-pipe yellow slide; all of which, amazingly enough, fit into the back with only one length of beam sticking out of my back window, which I tied shut with some twine that I had uncharacteristically thought to bring beforehand.

I checked out with the office admin, and saw off in a side office, what must have been a septuagenarian, clad in nothing but a pair of red gym shorts and a pair of Nikes, surfing the net, completely absorbed and oblivious to my presence. Gravity was winning the timeless battle with his sagging chest and stomach, which was sparsely covered by a thinning gray pelt and a sheen of sweat nearly evaporated into the air conditioned office clime.

I flipped my thumb in his direction and asked the admin, "Who's this handsome fella?"

She grinned and waved her hand dismissively, "That's just Bob."

Perhaps he was the Bob from the old commercial, that ends with a handsome police officer leaning into the drivers window, who he has ostensibly pulled over for speeding, and realizing who the driver is, smiles and says, 'Oh, it's you Bob.'

"Of course," I laughed, "I didn't recognize him from this angle."

The family was excited when I got home, and helped me unload, at least my wife Beth did. My two year old climbed on the forming piles in the garage, while my five year old donned his helmet and zoomed in circles on his scooter around the truck.

In order to build the new set, we have to clear out the old garden, which the previous owners tended and we have ignored. Prior to this weekend, a fence was built around it, composed of six metal stakes drove deeply in the ground with barbs that grab tight and hold them fast, and a three foot high wire mesh attached to the posts, and bound to wood beams laid around the fence perimeter.

I took out a shovel and bit into the ground at the base of one of the posts and pulled out a chunk of earth crawling with bees. The bravest got me on the leg, so I dropped the shovel gave it a quick swat.

"I just got stung." I said to my wife who was standing nearby. My oldest son Jackson was standing just outside the garden nearby.

He no sooner got the words out, "What does it feel like daddy?", when he found out firsthand. He screamed like a burn victim and pulled red rills into his arm, where a bee attacked him like a jackhammer on pavement. Beth, who is allergic to most everything started screaming too, and I watched as she and Jackson scrambled towards the house. My two year old Emmett walked up next to me, and by this time the bees were getting organized and buzzing all around my body. I snatched him up and joined the others. By now, all three of them were carrying on, but little Emmett was untouched, just scared by all the commotion.

In the end, nobody was really hurt badly, although Jackson had been stung four times by the same bee, but his arm was worse for his frantic clawing.

"Jackson," I said to him once he calmed down. "I want you to notice something about what happened. It hurt really bad didn't it?"

"Yes," he said as his tears started to well again.

"But now you are ok, aren't you?"

"Yes," this time a little calmer.

"Next time a bee stings you, as much as it hurts, keep your head and slap the bee first. It will not sting you again. And remember that afterwards you are going to be ok."

"Ok daddy."

We went to Home Depot and bought a tow chain and hooked it up to the fence. I let the kids ride in the front seat, which pleased them more than any carnival ride will ever do. With the windows moving up and down, and the radio oscillating between ear splitting and a whisper, we pulled the fence out post by post, and then, because it was so much fun, we pulled out a few pesky stumps that won't be getting in my way anymore.


Tee said...

What kind of bees were they? I thought bees could sting only once and then they die?... Well, atleast you know he isn't allergic. I always wonder if my boys are. Neither has been stung yet... Were the bees living in the ground or in the post? ... I would have freaked out.

We had the joy of assembling a swingset a few months ago. Not fun.
Here's my swingset post.

Joely Sue Burkhart said...

Wow, sounds like you had quite an eventful weekend! I would have been hysterically swiping at bees while running and screaming like a banshee. I got stung many times as a kid (our yard was full of white clover and we always ran barefoot) and each time the swelling got worse. I'd hate to see what a bee would do to me now!!

jenbeauty said...

OH I hate bees and I react like your son. Nobody ever tries to calm me down, they just laugh. Go figure.

So are you going to add some of your own touches to the swing set? I wish hubby was more handy in this way.

And this I had uncharacteristically thought to bring beforehand. PRICELESS!

mr. schprock said...

Nice story. If it makes you feel any better, I was stung twice this weekend myself while trimming bushes. Boy does that smart! I jumped off the ladder and said a lot of bad words.

Scott said...

Tee - I thought the same thing while writing this. They were probably yellow jacketts, or some such semi-automatic brand of buzzing bug. I hope to have some fun building this set, but I'll get back to you if not!

Joely - I don't envy anyone that swells allergic to any kind of bite. I don't care if I get stung too much, although it really does smart.

Jen - I thought it was a little amusing, except that Jackson was so upset. My wife didn't get stung and was screaming just as much though. She is the worlds biggest WIMP! It's just part of her charm. Thanks for noticing my little dig on myself!

Mr. Schprock - What is going on in the world? I got stung on two seperate occasions this weekend, and before that, it has been YEARS. Are we headed for an apocalypse?

Mrs.T said...

I've never been stung by a bee... and I'm not looking forward to any such event... ever.

I hope Jackson is okay... and not totally traumatized, I'm pretty sure I'd be in bed all day if I'd been stung.. LOL

Mr. T said...

And ye shall know the cometh of the end days by the bountiful buzzing of bees and the resounding trumpets of the stung-ed.

I have a determined hive of wasps. I kill their brothers and destroy the hive... a day or two later, they are back again. Not sure whats so appealing about my overhang... maybe I should paint it an ugly pea green color so it will clash with their black and yellow stripes.

Scott said...

Mrs T - Jackson is doing good, and thanks for asking. He was a little spooked, but I managed to get him around the garden again after explaining that they don't attack when unprovoked. He watched from the truck as I went at it again, and got chased around the yard a few times while hitting the hole with Raid.

Mr T - That is absolutely brilliant, you might be onto something!

trinamick said...

I despise bees, cuz I'm allergic as well. My arm will swell up about double if I even get stung on the thumb. I don't scream, I just hunt the sucker down and put him on ice.

Scott said...

You're one of those tough chicks, like in the movies. Good for you. Nothing comes of all the screaming, but it sure is funny to watch.

magnetbabe said...

Did your kids learn some new vocabulary words from the experience?

Scott said...

Nothing they haven't heard before -- unfortunately! I was watching Entourage the other night, where Arey (?) curses in front of the kids, and his wife gives him a look, and he says real sweet, "Only daddy talks that way." Classic.