Allowing Kids to “Bee” the Best They Can

Hispanic comedian Kiki Melendez poses the question: Are we preparing our children for the competitive business world?

 

A few weeks ago, I got stressed out over a 4th-grade project a teacher had given to one of my twins. It involved constructing a bumblebee for a display.

My husband dutifully went to Michaels to ask for advice. But being the cheap Scottish so-and-so he is, he came home with the most inexpensive materials he could find. (In his defense, he did spend enough to make the project happen.)

He bought Styrofoam balls to simulate the bee’s body and head, yellow and black paints, wings, eyes, glue, and a stick that would go up the bee’s butt to make it look like it was flying.

It occurred to me, however, that I couldn’t and shouldn’t make the bug for my daughter, Isabella. She had to learn to do it herself.

Once she got started, she refused my help anyway. She quickly developed a sense of pride and joy in building the insect. It was her creation. Like a mommy giving birth, she wanted to go through all the pain and effort herself. I sat in amazement as I watched her glue, paint and carefully craft the little bee.

At the end, the whole family felt a sense of gratification. She had done it. Although, it wasn’t the most beautiful bee I’ve ever seen, it was her achievement alone.

A Bee in a Closet

On the day the project was due, I went to the class in hopes of getting some kudos from the teacher for turning in my daughter’s project early. (We’re typically a bit tardy when it comes to these things.) I also wanted to see the little bumblebee on display. To my dismay, it wasn’t.

Not a shock really, because all of the other projects looked like they had been built by NASA engineers who also moonlighted as artists. There was a glorious butterfly with beautiful red and black silk wings and a caterpillar made of golden tin that was worthy of museum display.

It suddenly hit me: My little girl was competing with parents and not her peers.

I felt like I had let her down. I asked the teacher, “Where’s our little girls bumblebee?” He felt embarrassed and replied, “Oh, it’s back here.” I said, “Where?” He was hesitant to show me, but I insisted. He walked over to a closet, reached deep inside and pulled it out.

 

 

Kiki Hispanic Comedian Bee Isabella Berry and her “Bee”

 

It was an eyesore compared to the rest of the pieces on display.

He must have sensed my pain as he handed the bee back to me and said,

“Why don’t you take it home and work on it some more.” I quickly agreed.

Then I thought, “Wait. Is this what our school system is teaching our kids? I need to work on my 4th grader’s school project to compete with the rest of the class?”