Saturday, 22 August 2015

Bees in Jars

Once upon a time I decided to sacrifice a car. I had a bucket load of toy cars when I was younger, I loved playing with them. In fact they are still in the same bucket and the bucket isn't a traditional bucket. It was a nappy bucket. Your grandma used to soak mine and probably your auntie’s nappies in it because disposable nappies hadn’t been invented yet. It’ll be almost an antique by the time you or your brother or sister plays with it.

For some reason I decided I wanted a broken car, like it had been in a terrible crash. Little boys love to pretend to shoot people, play with swords and crash their cars. Your cousin, Cole, has combined two of those things and shoots people with his cars.

So I wanted a car which looked like it had been in a crash. This posed several problems. The first was that I loved all my cars and didn't really want to break any of them. The second was that I had some sense that this was the wrong thing to do, that I might be in trouble for doing it. I knew each one of my cars, they all had their own personalities (and this was long before Cars the movie had come out) and I presumed that everyone must take the same notice. In reality, if one or two cars disappeared I'm not so sure anyone would have realized but I was convinced my mum would know and I'd be in trouble.

I spent a good deal of time narrowing down which car I would break. I looked at the fast ones and the old ones and the new ones and none of them really seemed to deserve to be smashed.  My will to damage one was however stronger than my will not to but I still struggled to choose one of them.

In the end I settled on a yellow one. It had doors which opened and a plastic roof to make it look like a convertible. I liked the opening doors but I also like the idea of trying to take them off. And the roof should have been convertible anyway so removing it seemed somehow fitting.

I held my breath, closed my eyes and attacked the car until there was no going back. For a short burst of time it was good fun and I created the toy world’s greatest accident. I took off the top and pulled off the doors and squashed the sides.

I'd always liked taking things to pieces so I couldn't wait to see what the insides of these fantastic toys looked like. I thought they might reveal something magical or secret but on the dissection front it really was quite disappointing.

And then I was left with the shell of a car. And really I'd quite liked that car and now it was ruined. I wasn't sure why I'd done it and I sort of regretted it. More importantly I couldn't really work out what I'd tried to do or hoped to achieve. I could remember the feeling of excitement of wanting to do it but now I'd done it I felt a bit silly.

I was left with the guilt of breaking one of my toys which I couldn't really play with anymore. I think I felt sorry for the car. Maybe that was my young mind not quite understanding what guilt meant. Or maybe I was overly sensitive or was learning empathy so by breaking something I sort of knew how it felt. And I didn't want my toys to be sad. To some extent I think I always thought everything had a sense of life and I was learning how it felt when it wasn't alive anymore and it was my fault.

Once my cousin and I caught a bee each in a jar and hid them. I don't know why we wanted to catch them and once we had caught them we didn't know what to do with them. We thought you couldn't ever release them because they'd find you and sting you and so the poor bees were left to die.

I spent a lot of time at night thinking of those bees and imagining their families missing them. Once or twice I wanted to creep downstairs and out into the garden to free them but I didn't dare.

I suppose that's the thing. I knew it was wrong, I could feel it was wrong but I didn't really understand why until I learnt it for myself. And sometimes you're going to have to learn things for yourself. Sometimes you'll have to learn the hard way. I think the most important thing is that you do learn. And you don't keep making the same mistake over and over again. Whilst you're learning try to remember that all life is precious and that you must also take care of the things you own. Once they are gone, they're gone, you can't bring them back.

Your mum has just added this and I think it fits:

I think boys are a little more self-destructive than girls.  I cut my dolls hair thinking I was improving them and then realised they looked better before but that was a lack of skill rather than wilful vandalism!