It’s a wonderful adventure to live in a part of the country where the weather allows what should be little crawly buggies to grow into creatures of epic proportions. Where other places have small, buzzy outdoor insects, my Gulf Coast home boasted “pine roaches,” also known as “palmetto bugs,” also known as “holy cow when did we get this other dog.” You could practically hear them walking across the floor.

Yes, I said the floor. These are “outside roaches” according to the Internet; [Quick Aside: Allow me to state unequivocally that in my humble opinion, the word “outside” should be used or at least implied before the name of every insect or any critter not wearing a collar and eating food from my hand.] however, every bug can find a way in and our beloved palmettos were no exception.

Let me be clear: I do not like bugs. I called my father into my room to kill a bug the night before my wedding and it’s been my husband’s job since.

But I’m also a mom and a large, albeit quivery, part of me didn’t want to pass on any insect freak-out behavior. So when called upon by my offspring to dispatch whatever crawls, flies, or squirms, I would do so with mild admonitions that they could have done it themselves and curb my own emotions so as not to discourage their budding bravery. Then I would walk out and have a private shimmy-shake yuck fest.

One evening as my children were brushing their teeth and I was counting the minutes until I could too, the eldest rushed in.

“There’s a roach in the bathroom.”

“So kill it.”

She looked over her shoulder. Younger brother was right there, eyes wide.

“But it’s really big.”

“You’re bigger than it is.”

“Not much.”

Sputtering, I marched bravely off to the bathroom, my petrified prodigy in tow.

What I saw on the wall stopped me in my tracks. This was the Daddy of all pine roaches. This guy was the Greyhound bus to their Smart car. If I could have saddled him, I could have ridden him out of there. He was so big — Well, I think I’ve made my point.

“Whoa!” I exclaimed. Loudly. My children froze behind me. “That’s not a roach, that’s a truck!” Then I began rapidly commanding the troops. “You! Get the bug spray! You! Get a broom!” It was one of the only times I found myself wishing we owned a gun. Or a bazooka.

The battle ensued, my two little soldiers cheering me on from the safety of the hallway. Once Monstro was defeated and victoriously deposited back outside where he should have stayed, thank you very much, we all had a good long laugh.

They told me later that moment changed things for them. They saw me differently after that. I groaned at that announcement and nodded, shamefaced. But that wasn’t it. To see my all-too-human reaction gave them a more attainable lesson in courage.

But, more than that, they said, that day doing battle in the bathroom together actually endeared me a little more to them. Made me more real, in a way. Oh I was still a hero as I carried the Guinness Book bug out to the garbage, but I was a hero they could relate to just a little bit more.

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2 thoughts on “Bugged

  1. My first encounter with the Guinness Palmetto bug was when we lived in Florida and as it ran out from the package of draperies we were hanging. As it scurried across the floor at warp speed, I thought it was a mouse (bugs aren’t supposed to get that big, are they?!?) and much to my husband’s horror, went after it with a hammer. Luckily for it (and for us who would have had bug guts all over the room), my aim was poor and it ran away. Sadly, I was not elected to super-hero status for that endeavor.

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