Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The story of the bee (and my continuing humiliation)

When I was a little girl (about 4 or so), my Mum had taken me with her to pick up my Dad from work. We had just arrived and I think that my Mum had started talking to someone she knew in the car park. I clearly remember standing there, looking around and feeling bored. Until I saw a dead bee on the ground. Having always been interested in finding stuff (and then taking it home), I bent down for a closer look.

"Don't touch it, it will sting you" my Mum warned. So I picked it up. Of course it then stung me. I started screaming and my Mum started laughing because she said it served me right for never listening. In the end, my Dad took me inside and found some ice to put on my hand.

For my entire life - this has been a shameful story dragged out for everybody's entertainment at regular intervals. This is what happens when you don't listen to advice - you get stung. But the story also made my 4-year-old-self look foolish - and there is nothing Laziest Girl hates more than looking foolish.

It seems so simple in retrospect but I think that there are deeper questions - why didn't I listen to my Mother? I clearly remember not believing her - "How can it sting me if it is dead?" I thought. My Mum didn't make a habit of telling me lies, so why did I choose not to believe her? I think because all evidence pointed to the contrary - I mean the bee was dead - who ever heard of dead bees stinging people?

I've been thinking about it and it's time that this shameful story is reframed. So I got stung, so I didn't listen to my Mum, at least I learned from it and I never picked another bee up. So is this a character fault? Do I still not listen to advice? Pretty much - so maybe I didn't learn so much afterall.

But this doesn't make the 4-year-old-me a fool - it makes me the kind of person who needs to experience things for myself and who doesn't listen to nay-sayers. The kind of person who needs to do it rather than hear about it. Although it is also entirely possible that the logic of a 4-year-old shouldn't be applied to the psyche of a 32-year-old.


Blogger t said...

That sort of reminds me of the time about 20 years ago I went with my buddy over to his friend's farm. This farm had cows penned up with an electric fence. The farmer said "Don't touch the fence, it's electric." I stared at the fence for a few moments, then of course I touched it and got a good jolt! He laughed, "What in the hell did I just tell you???"

I don't know what made me touch it. Curiousity on what it would feel like, I guess.....

I read a few years ago that British scientists think they've found where specific memories can be in the brain and they think someday it'll be possible to have memories of your choosing erased, if you wish. Do you have specific memories you'd like to get rid of? Understand now....even bad memories can be useful. Your bee sting, although humiliating, taught you at 4 not to pick up bees anymore. However, if you had that memory erased the same thing would've happened later in life, probably under non-humiliating circumstances.

Erasing a memory would obviously depend on whether or not the good points of doing it outweighed the bad. Rape, for example. No one would want to remember something like that. Bad break-ups with a boyfriend or girlfriend. In most cases I'm not sure there was anything learned by that. I know I have a few bad experiences with girls from my life I'd want erased.

12:24 pm  
Blogger L said...

it could be worse :)

my mother frequently brings out odd childhood stories about me and my siblings -- usually all highly embarassing

2:57 pm  

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