Lost in (3-Year-Old) Translation


This morning Joey came up to me and asked a question.

“Daddy, what do bees do?”

Once I got over the relief of realizing he didn’t ask what birds and bees do, I got excited about the question. As I’ve talked about before, the opportunity to teach our kids stuff, and not just feed and bathe them, is really the part of parenting I’ve been most looking forward to. And, finally, standing right in front of me, was a bouncy ball wrapped in skin with a very serious desire to learn.

He looked at me like I held all the knowledge in the world, descendant of Lord Brittannica himself. And suddenly my excitement turned to panic. Oh crap! What DO bees do?! I got myself together before he was able to catch on that I was anything but completely sure of myself and channeled my inner third-grader.

“Well, bees help flowers to grow.”

“Huh?!” Shock. Intrigue. Attentiveness. This is the longest he’s paid attention since…um, yeah.

“See, let’s say this hand is a flower.” I held out my left hand, balled up in a fist. “And let’s say this is the bee.” Now my right hand was in the act; two fingers fluttering in a terrible replication of bee flight. “The bee lands on the flower, and picks up all the pollen. Then he flies it over to another flower and leaves it there so more flowers can grow.”

Wide-eyed, half grinning with complete astonishment. Oh God. I thought. I hope that’s right.

“And do you know what else bees do?”


“They take the pollen back to their hives and make honey. Like the bear jar in our cabinet that has honey in it. That came from bees!”

“I like honey!”

“See bees do a lot of good, huh?”

“Yes, but…but do bees sting you? Jack got stung.”

The kids’ friend, Jack, was recently stung twice in the face. They were there when it happened and I think it mildly traumatized them.

“Bees only sting you when they feel threatened. They don’t want to sting you, but if you give them no other choice, then they might sting you to defend themselves.”


“So, does that answer your question?”

“Yes. Can I watch bees on TV now?”

“You mean you want to watch Bee Movie?” It’s one of their favorites. G knows it inside and out.


I started to load it into the DVD player and Joey walked over to Gianna. While they waited for the movie to start, I heard Joey ask her a question.

“G, do you want to know what bees do?”

I couldn’t believe my ears. Not only did he take in my explanation, but now he was going to re-teach it to his little sister. I could barely contain my excitement.

“G, I asked if you want to know what bees do?”

“Uh huh.”

And with that as her consent, he wound up and gave her a two-finger poke to the forehead.



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