• Jennifer Hastings

Bee Stings and Turtle Turds

Updated: Oct 9, 2019


When I say, “A weekend without cell phone service,” are you thrilled or terrified? Did your pulse pick up and hands get clammy or did you feel a longing and desire to see what that feels like? Would you avoid a wifi free weekend at all cost or would you seek it out? I’m starting to believe to recharge, we must unplug. A simple truth, but very powerful.

Five miles to go and my phone shows NO SERVICE, the road begins to curve and twist around the mountain, as my mind starts to anticipate the weekend ahead. No Ipads, cell phones, or google...just gnats, mosquitoes, and endless possibilities. The tires leave the pavement and the gravel crunch is music. What memories will be made? What new jokes coined? Six kids, four adults, and a creek. Oh, my. We round the corner and pull onto Creek Hollow Way...Let the wild rumpus start!

The Bee Sting

A blood curdling scream pierces the quiet of Saturday morning! My heart sinks, because I know that scream and the voice it belongs to. It is my dear Caroline, my middle child, before I can even get my head around the danger, she lets out another terrified scream. It is the kind of scream that strikes terror in a mom’s heart. It is the kind of scream, you take instant action on. I sprint to her... all the while sizing up the situation. I’m thinking it must be fire ants taking in her location by the creek, as I’m moving faster than I have in a long time. No ants, ...wasps! Red Wasps!

In the aftermath of the sting, something stirs in my heart as I watch my child begin to turn her tears to laughter and I take in the scene. I’m holding ice packs to the front of one leg and the back of the other. Carly Deane, her sister’s best friend, is gently stroking her hair on the other side of her. Charlotte Grace, her best friend and Claire, her older sister, are leaning in retelling the story in quite an exaggerated reenactment. Stephannie, my best friend, is holding Benadryl, ready, just in case, we have an all out allergic reaction on our hands. (Caroline is the peanut allergy kid, so we tend to be on edge with her.) In that moment, I saw it in Caroline’s eyes...She felt loved, valued, and cherished. This is when it hit my heart, I can not stop life from stinging my children. But I can love them through their ups and downs. For love, pain, hurt, and joy are somehow all wrapped up together. And life is way better with friends and family by your side.

Turtle Turds

Fast forward a few hours… and Shelly, the turtle, enters the picture. Caroline is fascinated! She brings Shelly into the kitchen and shows off her new forest friend. It didn’t take too long for her to empty a Costco Keurig box for Shelly’s new home. She bums lettuce off Stephannie, convinces her dad to cut off a cup so Shelly doesn’t have to crane her neck to hydrate. I’m beginning to find it endearing how much she is getting into this turtle care.

There are some moments, that just stop you in your tracks and you think… What??? Are my ears deceiving me or did I actually hear what I thought I heard.

Stephannie slams the door and says, “There are turtle turds in my bed!” with a hand on her hip.

The girls, the whole gaggle of them follow her in the back door. My Caroline is holding the sheets. Stephannie had already let them have it. No one will admit to placing sweet Shelly on her bed, and apparently a turtle can make a decent size waste pile, who knew?? They continued to stick together in solidarity. There is one talented turtle living in Tennessee, let me tell you. It climbed all the way up the bedpost and into the sheets by itself.

You would think that would be the end of it, but it gets better. Caroline is stuffing the sheets into the washing machine. In my mind, the culprit has to be what we call “the middles” otherwise they would have been able to convince their big sisters to execute the sheet removal. This is really all the evidence I need. The middles really are a force to be reckoned with.

Everyone is crowded around the washing machine, still in disbelief that there are turtle poop stains on the sheets. At least, we assumed the poop had been removed and it was just a stain left. We were wrong to assume. That is about the moment when Stephannie spots some very suspicious matter lying in the floor next to the foot of the washing machine. “Is that?...Wait, Caroline, What did you do with the turtle poo?” Stephannie insisted.

To know my Caroline, is to know her crazy eyes and crazy looks. There were no need for words, because she cut the crazy eyes over to the washing machine in a way that we all knew she didn’t bother to shake the poop out of the sheets. Stephannie proceeds to explain what must happen. In the midst of Caroline removing the sheets… Charlotte picks up something from the floor and calmly says, “Do you think this is brisket or a turtle turd?” My husband yells from the living room, “Taste it and find out!”

Just as love and pain go together, so do our messes and order. We need both. As parents, we all experience moments like this, and if we aren’t careful, we could focus on the mess, the frustrations, but instead we should challenge ourselves to find the beauty in our mistakes. Take the time to enjoy the unexpected, laugh at life, and not take yourself so seriously.

Take the time to savor the bee stings and turtle turds! At least, that is the way I see it.


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