Thanks to Mom, I No Longer Pet Bees
"Kindness Begins with Me"
When I was about 5 years old, I was taught that “kindness begins with me,” and that if I was kind, others would be kind in return. So as a five year old, I naturally went out into the world and made friends with everything. Flowers, trees, grass, rocks, frogs, dogs, cats, and bees. Yes, bees. I was not only kind to bees, I petted them. In return, they would sting me. A lot. I would pet the little bees with kindness and love and the ungrateful, hateful, pathetically stupid little nit wits would sting me for being nice to them. And I would run to mom, tears streaming down my five-year-old face sobbing that it hurt so badly and the bees were so mean. When she got the whole story out of me, her eyes got really big and a look of shock came upon her countenance, and she acted as if she was going to explode. With laughter. And so she held back her riotous laughter to just a tiny little giggle and a smile and said, “Danny, bees don’t know any better! If you try to touch them, they will sting you! Please don’t pet the bees!”
But I persisted for a while, determined that what I was taught about kindness must be true for bees. It just wasn't so, but no matter how I thought it through, it didn't add up in my little mind. Surely if I kept trying to be kind, they would finally see the error in their ways, I reasoned. And so it was my persistence that guaranteed there was a harder lesson on the way.
I Became a "Swell" Kid
We made a visit to Great Grandma Grace’s house in Joseph, Utah a little later that summer. I found a big bee and followed it all around, quite carefully, and finally reached out to pet it, and it swooped around and stung me right under my eye. I ran into the house to Grandma who put something on the sting (it seems like it might have been baking soda). And while she talked about the mean bee that stung me, mom asked, “Did you try to pet it?”
To which Grandma Grace replied, “Why no, Gayle, why would he want to pet a bee?!?”
But I replied between each sob, “But I did try, Grandma, I tried to pet it!”
Mother took me and held me on a chair looking at my eye which had already swollen shut and said, “I’m sorry the bee stung you. Do you still want to pet bees?”
“NO!” I said angrily.
“Well, it’s okay, Danny, they don’t really want you to pet them, either. Just pet animals that want to be petted, okay? She encouraged.
For the longest time I couldn’t understand how such an awful creature as a bee could produce something as sweet as honey. You’d have thought it should have produced cow manure.
Which reminds me of the time when I was even younger (probably age four) and I followed cows around all day with handfuls of grass saying, “Here cow, here cow.” And as the cow was about to bite my entire hand off as I said “Ank you!” Mom swooped in and saved my entire fist from being devoured.
My mom has really good common sense. Me, maybe not so much. Still, to this day, she teaches me to love and respect life, the world, and everything in it. And when the world is mean, or goes terribly wrong, she never hesitates to remind me, “I love you, Danny. I love you so much!” And that’s the way she has always been with all her children, all her family, all her friends, and to every human being I think she has ever met. She is quiet by nature, but is unconditionally accepting and loving of everyone.
Through the decades, I learned what it’s like to be a parent also. And I suddenly found myself understanding what it was like to console a child, (even an adult child) and grandchild. The most unexpected gift arrived on my 60th birthday when my daughter, Elisabeth said to me in a noisy restaurant, across a table while I struggled to hear, “I just want you to know I get it, dad. I understand what it means to be a parent, to give your whole life and all your love to your children. I get the tears, the sorrow, the worry, the happiness, and the poop. I get it. It’s the most painful, most wonderful thing I’ve ever experienced. I understand now and I want to thank you for everything you have done to make my life better and help me become who I am.” And I wept.
Elisabeth didn’t have to pet bees to learn what I learned. Somehow what Mom taught me transferred through the genetic process, along with what I said and did, and she learned to value many of the same wonderful things my Mother taught me, and she is passing it on.
I decided these thoughts needed to become a song, and the song is for both my mother (who will celebrate her 80th birthday very soon) and for Elisabeth (who is 48 years younger). Their birthdays are one day apart. Mother’s is April 16th, and Elisabeth’s is April 17th.
The song is called When I Think of You.
When I Think of You
When I was just a child you sat and read to me,
And told me I could do most anything,
Told me be anything that my heart could dream.
It made me smile.
And so I grew and learned, and as I claimed my life,
My stubborn will divided you and I,
And all those words we said were sometimes filled with strife,
And we would cry.
Sunny days could turn to rainy days
When I would storm around when I didn’t get my way.
Sunny days along with rainy days
Can give new meaning to our lives and reason for our ways.
The little notes you wrote that brought those happy smiles,
The pranks you pulled denying all the while,
The endless times that I thought I knew better than you,
How wrong I...
I understand now the sacrifice you made,
How hard it was to do all of the things you did.
I understand now how easy hurt is dealt,
How slow the healing till no more sting is felt.
And when I think of you, I think of sunny days,
The kind that come when rain has gone away,
The kind like when you kissed my tears away,
Those days I...
I understand now how blessed and loved I am.
Those little words we say,
So overused but they are true,
Those little words—
I love you.
Words and music by Daniel Carter.
© 2016 by Daniel Carter. All rights reserved. Copying prohibited.
Sheet Music Is Available
Sheet music for this song arranged for medium range solo voice with piano accompaniment is available at at holysheetmusic.com