KIDS SHORT STORY: The Bee Garden

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite at Pexels

Dillon was sent to the principal’s office again. This time he had to meet with a school resource officer. Not a policeman, but a retired clergyman, Solomon.

“Good afternoon, Dillon. How are you doing today?”

“I’ve been better. I don’t know why I’m here. Or, I do but I don’t think I’m wrong.”

“What happened?” Solomon knew something about why kids were asked to see him, but asking questions helped illustrate how the child saw what was happening.

“I got detention for beating up one of those weird kids in their hats. By why can’t they just dress like everybody else?”

“I see. Why does he wear the hat?”

“I don’t know. But shouldn’t want to fit in with everyone else? I wouldn’t wear weird stuff to school. I’d get beat up. So that’s what I did to him.” Dillon presented his case as logically as he could.

Solomon responded calmly, “I see. Do all the children at school look like you?”

“Mostly. It’s a charter school.” Dillon said. Solomon realized that this wasn’t going where it needed to as quickly as it needed to. Time to take a walk.

Solomon asked, “Dillon, how about some fresh air? If you come with me for a moment, I want you to see something.” Solomon told a receptionist they would be taking a little walk.

They walked down the street when Solomon had them stop in front of a patch of wildflowers. The town had planted them to help the bee population. Now that it was spring, every color of the rainbow was in bloom: lemon yellow dandelions, pink coneflowers and milkweed, blue bachelor buttons, magenta cosmos, lilac verbana.

Solomon stared at them, then turned to Dillon. “It’s nice isn’t it?”

The boy was unphased and disinterested. “I guess, but it looks messy.”

“Do you think this field look as nice if the milkweed demanded the space all to itself?”

“What is milkweed?”

Solomon offered another example, “That pink cluster over there. See the striped caterpillar on it?”

“Yes, now I do.” Dillon answered.

Solomon looked at him and asked again, “What about the dandelions, what if they decreed the space was all theirs?”

Dillon shrugged and said,“I don’t know what a dandelion looks like either.”

Solomon pointed it out. “It’s that dark yellow one over there. Could the other plants change color to comply with what the dandelion wanted? Would other bugs and birds be able to survive with just one species of plant?”

“I don’t know, maybe not.” Dillon seemed bored.

Solomon, sensing he was running out of time, stopped with the questions and got to his point. “But you see nature coexists beautifully with differences. Everything looks different and there’s a purpose for all of them. We’re creatures on this planet, too, and we must do the same. It should come, pardon the pun, naturally.

Dillon rolled his eyes. “That was a bad joke, but I guess I see what you mean.” Solomon checked his watch, and they started walking back to the office.

“Well how about this. You don’t want to be in trouble again, do you?” Solomon asked.

Dillon spoke a little louder this time, “No, it makes my parents mad and I don’t get to play video games for a week. It totally su–stinks.”

Solomon didn’t address the language Dillon used, that was for another time. The point was stopping the bullying with one last pitch. “What if…you were nicer to that strangely dressed boy? You might learn something surprising. He may like video games too.”

“Really?” Dillon furrowed his brow and looked at him in utter disbelief.

They had reached the office. Solomon said,“Yes, really. Give it a chance, tell me what happens.” Dillon was permitted to go back to class. The principal happened by just a few minutes later, seeming stressed about discipline at the school.

“Do you think you’ve got through to him? If he keeps acting up he’ll have to leave.”

Solomon nodded affirmatively. “I feel pretty good about it and he’s going to tell me how it works if he’s tries being nicer to a child who is different from himself.”

“Thank you, Solomon.”


ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 28, 2020, AT 9:00 A.M.

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more, here are some links to other stories on this site:

Easily Confused Words: Cater vs. Crater

Cater and crater are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway. 

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Cater (pronounced “kay-tuhr”) is a verb.

  • It means to prepare and provide the food for a large group or party. Perhaps you’ve noticed that any restaurant you can eat at is capable of providing catering for special events.
  • More figuratively, it means to placate or indulge the whims of another person (or people), to act subservient to his/her interests or wishes, or their interests or wishes. For example, in representative government, it sometimes appears that legislators cater to the wishes of their biggest donors rather than their voters.

Crater (pronounced “kray-tuhr”) has multiple meanings.

  • It means a depressed area in the Earth’s surface. They can be created by
    • Fallen objects from space include asteroids, meteorites, and comets.
    • Bombs
    • A walled plain or caldera

The largest crater in the United States is Meteor Crater. It is east of Flagstaff, a large city in the state of Arizona in the southwestern United States. A list of craters around the US can be found here.Here is a link to a list of the best-known craters around the world at National Geographic.

TRIVIA: In Oregon (a state in Pacific Northwest), there’s a place called “Crater Lake.” The name is for a crater that sits atop Wizard Island in the middle of the lake. However, the lake itself resides in a caldera, a collapsed volcano. It would be easy to totally miss the crater because the lake is a dazzling spectacle on its own. Here is a story about Crater Lake from the Mail Tribune, an Oregon newspaper.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Crayne fought hard to preserve a nearby crater as a county park. Developers wanted to build casinos, outlet malls, stadiums, you name it, and they figured the town of Carteretteville would be all on board to cater to their whims. The land would be all the easier to fill in because the crater had no brush to eliminate.

But Crayne presented it this way: Developers wanted to pave over one of the unique traits of the landscape to put in an attraction that could be found anywhere, in plenty of other cities. The county agreed to give the park a five year trial period. Creating it ultimately led to more jobs, less litter, and less noise pollution that a large commercial site would have created.

Easily Confused Words: Regale vs. Regulate

Regale and regulate are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway. 

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Regale (pronounced “ruh-gayl”) is a verb. It means to tell tales or recount stories for other’s entertainment or amusement. For example, people regale life stories to impress or amuse strangers and friends alike.

Regulate (pronounced “reg-yoo-layt”) is a verb.

  • It can mean adjusting to keep conditions or circumstances steady or on an even keel. An air conditioner and heat pump regulates the temperature inside your house per your specifications: it adds cold air in summer, and adds warm air in winter.
  • In government, it means to set conditions for issues like pricing, safety, waste disposal, environmental protection, etc. for industries and people. To de-regulate means to ease up or totally get rid of these conditions. In the late 1970s, US airlines were deregulated. Typically deregulation is presented as a good thing in the US. But while the experience of flying commercially has gotten cheaper and more brands are available, the experience of flying commercially has worsened.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Regina Rosenberg had been a Democratic senator for 50 years. She was often asked for interviews, but she declined these requests with comical one-liners. “I won’t regale you with tales of figuring out how to regulate industries and passing bills. It’s the cat-herding experience you’ve been warned about.”

Easily Confused Words: Cilantro vs. Cointreau

Cilantro and Cointreau are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway. 

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Cilantro (US:”suh-lawn-troh”/SP: “seee-LAN-troh“) is a noun. It is a plant, an herb in the parsley family more commonly known as coriander in other parts of the world. Fresh cilantro leaves are used food preparation, especially in Latin dishes.

Cointreau (pronounced FR:”kwhan-troh“) is a noun. It is a French brand of liquer that is transparent, colorless, and tastes like oranges.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Cicely complained she couldn’t sleep and was starting to feel rough. Her roommate Corinne made her a Cointreau mocktail with mashed jalapeño and cilantro in it.

Easily Confused Words: Pica vs. Pika

Pica and pika are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway. 

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Pica (pronounced “pie-kuh”) has multiple meanings.

  • In typography and graphic design, it is a measurement equating to one-sixth of an inch. 12 points make up a pica. You can read more here.
  • In pathology, it means a craving to eat dirt, chalk, clay, or other abnormal things. It is an indicator of malnourishment but a physician would have to determine if the culprit is a lack of iron, zinc, etc. in the patient’s diet.
  • In ornithology (study of birds), Pica pica is the Latin name for a Eurasian magpie bird.

Pika (pronounced “pie-kuh”) is a noun. It means a small furry mammal native to China and the western mountains of North America. While they are genetically related to rabbits and hares, they lack the large ears of their cousins. Pika’s ears are short and rounded, like a mouse’s or a bear’s.

Check out videos of pica here and here.

In pop culture: Pikachu (peek-uh-choo), the yellow character in Pokémon, was named for this creature, but looks like a viscacha (also spelled vizcacha). The viscacha is native to Peru, Chile, and Argentina on the South American continent.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Picksworth realized he might have to cut his documentary on pikas of Asia short. It seemed his youngest was suffering from pica and eating strange things. Living on the road had been unconventional, but up until now it hadn’t been a cause of health problems for anyone in the family.

Easily Confused Words: Typhoon vs. Typhoid

Typhoon and typhoid are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway. 

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Typhoon (pronounced “tie-foon”) is a noun. It is one of three words for a hurricane, a major storm that comes in off the ocean. High winds, tornados, torrential rain are all part of the storm once they come ashore. Some are fast, others are slow and hang over the same area for days.

  • Typhoon refers to these storms in the Western Pacific Ocean.
  • Cyclone refers to these storms in the Indian Ocean and the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Hurricane refers to these storms in the Atlantic Ocean and northeast Pacific Ocean.
    • The Atlantic ones develop off the eastern coast of Africa and affect Caribbean islands, Atlantic islands, the eastern coasts of the Americas.
    • The NE Pacific ones develop off the west coasts of central America and Mexico, just above the equator, they affect Mexico, the western US, western Canada, and Alaska.

Typhoid (pronounced “tie-foyd”) is a noun. It means a bacterial infection leading to ulcers and inflammation in the digestive tract. It is transmitted through the presence of Salmonella typhi in food and drink.

  • In the 1900s in New York City, a cook named Mary Mallon was determined to be an asymptomatic (or incubating) carrier of this disease. A pattern of illness developed among a significant number of employers and customers after eating food she had prepared. Today the term “Typhoid Mary” is used for someone spreading a disease without realizing it.
    • An asymptomatic carrier has the disease and can spread it to others, but isn’t showing symptoms his/herself.
    • A convalescent carrier has recovered from having the disease, yet is still capable of spreading it around.

The following story uses both words correctly:

By stowing away on a freighter in early 1903, Tyler and Tiffany were lucky to have avoided a typhoon that devastated their home island later that year.

They found work in kitchens of some of Tacoma’s wealthiest families. It seemed things were looking up, but there was trouble on the horizon. A disturbing pattern was emerging: family members had fallen ill at each home. Word was getting out that these siblings might be typhoid twins.

Being asymptomatic, if they were sick, they had no way of knowing it. If caught, they would be required to stop working in food preparation. Unfortunately, few menial jobs paid as well as kitchen help, and it didn’t require speaking English like a native. Maybe they would just leave town for other opportunities where no one knew them.

Easily Confused Words: Pho vs. Foe

Pho and Foe are easily confused words.

Pho (pronounced “fuh”) is a Vietnamese food word. It means a noodle soup dish from North Vietnam, a country in Southeast Asia. The dish featuring rice noodles, chunks of beef, fish sauce, white onion, ginger, scallions, red serrano pepper, lime, anise spice, cloves, cinnamon.

Check out a cooking video for quick pho here. [More traditional, slower preparations of the dish should autoplay after the video.]

Foe (pronounced “foh”) is a noun. It is another word for enemy, someone who is against you or what you want.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Fulvia thought her Pho recipe would dazzle the judges at this year’s Pho Goodness Sake Challenge. Her creative touches used zoodles in lieu of noodles and Carolina reaper peppers for extra kick. Unfortunately, she was once again foiled by her foe, Fred Fujikawa.

The above story is fictional, but here is a real-life 2016 story about Oklahoma City’s growing Vietnamese food culture. And this link takes to a story about other US cities with a large Vietnamese presence.

Easily Confused Words: Plum vs. Plump

Plum and plump are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway. 

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Plum (pronounced “pluhm;” rhymes with rum, thumb) has multiple meanings.

  • It can means a type of drupe fruit that is the size of a baseball or smaller. Like a peach, it has a cleft (or groove) running down one side, and a singular pit.
    • Damson is a cultivar that has a dark blue-purple skin and a saffron to green flesh. It is often seen in US markets in summer.
  • It can describe foods or beverages made from the fruit: plum pudding (UK), plum wine (China & Japan), Plum cake (Poland)
  • It can describe a manufactured product with a richly saturated berry color, like cosmetics or a piece of clothing.
  • As a proper noun, it is the pseudonym of English author Plum Sykes. It’s also been a name or nickname for other people listed here.

Plump (pronounced “pluhmp”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it can mean to engorge or increase in size or volume. For example:
    • Sausage links on a grill plump when they are cooked.
    • Peppermint oil applies to lips helps them plump up and look bigger.
    • In hair products: volumizing products aim to lift up hair from the scalp, while thickening products aim to increase diameter, or ‘plump up” individual strands.
  • As an adjective, it describes something round or dense, like a fully ripened fruit.

The following story uses both words correctly:

It was almost time for the Padgett’s cookout to start. Burgers, bratwursts, and hotdogs were growing plump on the grill. Hefty bowls of potato salad, coleslaw, and macaroni salad were all uncovered and had serving spoons in them. The plates and cups were stacked at the end of the table. The coolers were full of beer, wine coolers, and soda. If no one came to the house today, they would be eating this stuff for a week.

Paloma strolled in, holding a beautiful plum cake.

“Guys, I have bad news. I think it’s about to rain really hard.”

She wasn’t wrong. The sun had disappeared behind thick, angry looking clouds. The party shifted indoors to the screened in porch, and the handful of guests that did show up didn’t seem to mind. They played board games. And the Padgetts, new to the neighborhood, felt like they had friends.

Easily Confused Words: Ebullient vs. Emollient

Ebullient and emollient are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway. 

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Ebullient (pronounced “ih-bool-ee-uhnt”) is an adjective.

  • It can describe something that literally bubbles, like a pot full of heated water.
  • It can describes something figuratively bubbly, like a person known for being lively, happy, and very extroverted. An ebullient person is a people-person and likely someone who loves parties.

Emollient (pronounced “ihmawl-yihnt”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an adjective:
    • It describes a thing that adds moisture, lubricates, or relieves dryness. Typically this would be moisturizer, lotions, ointments used for skin care and/or first aid.
    • In a figurative sense, it would describe something that facilitated or eased a process that had stalled.
  • As a noun, it means a substance or product that adds moisture, lubricates, or relieves dryness.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Eburhardt ached all over. He was covering himself in emollient creams and taking ibuprofen trying to get the awful sting to go away. Being so sore was distracting, it was hard to get anything done. It was like being sick.

During Saturday’s tough beach volleyball championship, he had forgotten to re-apply sunscreen. As team captain, he was too busy being his ebullient self during the game. He was talking to teammates and swapping other players out as needed. It didn’t occur to him to swap out himself. His team won, so his dedication had paid off. It wasn’t without a cost though. When he went to sit down, he realized how badly burnt he was.

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Emolument vs. Emollient.

Easily Confused Words: Hajj vs. Hijab

Hajj and hijab are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway. 

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Hajj (pronounced “hahjj”) is a noun. It means a pilgrimage to the Holy Land of Mecca, Saudi Arabia in the Islamic faith. This is one of the five pillars, or tenets, of Islam.

Hijab (pronounced “hih-jawb”) is a noun. It means a head covering worn by many Muslim women starting in their preteens. A hijab frames the face: it covers the hairline, the ears, and the top of the shoulders. Check out this visual aid for more information.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Halimah was studying pediatrics, her sister was studying obstetrics. They would turn 25 this April, and this was the age they agreed they would make the Hajj together. In the next few years, both would get jobs, get married, and start their adult lives in different places.

Having grown up in Canada, neither was not used to wearing a hijab all the time, but it would be required for religious travel in Saudi Arabia. For good luck on the journey, their mother, aunts, and grandmothers loaned the girls one of theirs. It would be very hot on the journey, so more than one scarf would be a necessity.

  • The above story is fictional, but Al Jazeera wrote a nonfiction account of the Hajj pilgrimage in 2008. Click the link to learn more.
  • There’s also a list of books about Hajj that appeared in the New York Times in 2016 here.