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Dear Oprah,
Is there anything that really creeps you out? You know, like snakes, bats, spiders? Well, I have something, and it’s roaches–or in Florida those giant palmetto bugs. Ewwwww!!!! They make my skin crawl—actually most bugs do unless they are cute like ladybugs and dragonflies. I become pretty irrational if one is hiding in my house.
I remember when Greg and I were first married, we lived in this teeny little condo that was pretty old, so naturally the bathroom was pretty disgusting until we remodeled. One morning, right after we moved in, I was getting ready for work and saw what was at least a foot-long palmetto bug in the bathtub. Well, I got the hell up outta there, and I wouldn’t return home until I knew Greg would be there to protect me. I can’t remember what happened, but we did live there four years, so he must have done his chivalrous duty.
Like a great parent, I’ve bestowed my fear of such creatures upon Mikey. Try as I might, I couldn’t stifle my reactions enough to stop this horrible cycle with me.
Last night, after sending my boys to their beds at least four times, and screaming down the hall for them to “settle down and go to sleep!” Mikey came running frantically out of his room. He sobs that he was looking under his bed for something and there was a giant palmetto bug on the “brown thing” (the bed skirt). Well, I wasn’t about to help, so we sent in Dad, who at this time is irritated with his son’s pansy-ness. Surely I heard him muttering something about those crappy “McKenna” genes on his wife’s side. You know, the neurotic ones.
The two boys and I followed dad armed with his paper towel down the hall to make sure that the terrifying intruder was caught. I’m sure Mikey and I both had visions of roaches crawling on us while we slept. He even asked me what if it crawled on his face when he was sleeping and fell in his mouth. Seriously? Thanks for the visual. Anyway, back to Dad, doing his due diligence. He checked the bed covers, under the bed, on the bed skirt, and said that he saw nothing. Noting the panic on my face he quickly said “Oh! There it is! I got it! Everyone! Out of the way, I need to flush it down the toilet!” Relieved for Mikey, but especially me because I was going to have to lay down with them until they fell asleep, I followed dad out and asked, very quietly, if he really found it. He didn’t…Jerk! He should have lied to me!
Mikey totally bought dad’s performance and his fears were momentarily quelled. He and his brother got back to their nighttime antics and not going to bed. I made a snack for myself hoping to delay going in to lay down with them. Hopefully they’d fall asleep in the meantime—getting me out of my nightly ritual. Naturally, lady luck wasn’t on my side, and I had to go and rule with an iron fist to get them to sleep. I usually accomplish this by bringing my tablet with me to read and feign disinterest, then tell them to “lie down and go to sleep! Not another peep!” Followed by a gentle reminder: “…I love you, boys…” Last night, though, a typical character flaw of an iron-fisted dictator asserted itself. Paranoia. I was sure every itch and tickle was that stupid bug crawling on me. I found myself discreetly, and fearfully looking over at Mikey’s bed skirt and everywhere else in the room I could hurriedly glance over without getting caught.  I didn’t want to blow Greg’s cover. It was one thing to deal with my own fears. It was totally another to deal with Mike’s by having him sleep in my bed.
You maybe could tell that it was Pierce’s night for “Mommy” to lie down with him. Thank.God. There was no way I was getting into Michael’s bed. No. Way. With our usual nightly routine, if the kid I am snuggling with falls asleep, I will go snuggle with the other if he’s still awake. Sometimes, they get greedy and beg me to come over to their bed before the one whose turn it is has actually fallen asleep. Naturally, Keeper of Roaches wanted me to come and lay in his bed, but I was extra firm that Pierce was still awake, so “No.” Then I lay there, feeling mad that he kept putting me on the spot by asking, and feeling guilty about trying to save myself, yet all the while praying that Pierce would stay awake longer than his brother.
We actually have regular pest control, so surely the creepy-crawly is long dead, but that still doesn’t entirely relieve my anxiety. Tonight is Mikey’s night to snuggle. God help and protect us all…

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