It ended with me screaming

By Mir
August 3, 2007

After a solid month of family togetherness, just superwonderful, 24/7 all being together what felt like every minute of every day, it was with great sadness that I packed the kids off to spend a weekend with their dad, today. They were VERY excited to see him and he was VERY excited to see them and it was a beautiful reunion that greatly assuaged my urge to shove them all out the door for at least five minutes. I don’t know how I will survive until Sunday night without the children, but I will try to soldier on.

“Hey!” I told Otto after they walked out the door, “we can sleep naked all weekend! Hell, we can just BE naked all weekend!”

There was much rejoicing, and because we are old and boring we opted not to commence with The Naked right away, because it’s tax-free weekend here in Georgia. And school starts in a week and I’ve only JUST gotten the kids properly registered at the right school, and when I did that they gave me a list of required school supplies that was about three pages long. So we celebrated our temporary child-free state by going to Office Max.

I used to get annoyed, back in New England, that every year we were required to buy dry erase markers. I mean, I know the teacher needs them, but a set of four from every kid in the class? What does a teacher DO with 80-something dry erase markers, exactly?

The good news is that here we are not required to cough up the dry erase markers. The bad news is that we have to buy absolutely everything else. Both kids need markers AND colored pencils AND crayons, and Monkey needs his own scissors (Fiskars safety scissors; yes, it’s brand-specified, just in case you think you can sneak in those shoddy bargain scissors) and Chickadee needs TWO pencil sharpeners “with receptacles,” because apparently in the fourth grade here you learn how to sharpen pencils with both hands at once when there are no trash cans available.

The requirements for folders and binders are very specific, and they need more of them than I think I used during that semester in college when I took 24 credits at once. The two-inch binder I was required to purchase also needs to have 7 subject dividers, perhaps to better keep track of the dozen file folders we had to buy. I don’t know.

So we bought office supplies and had lunch on Otto’s real estate agent (her motto is apparently “I’ll sell your home very slowly and for way less than it’s worth, but at least you’ll get an Olive Garden gift card out of the deal!”) (which is still better than MY realtor’s motto of “I’ll promise you a quick and easy sale and then just appear very perplexed when no one will buy your home even after you reduced the price to a buck fifty”) and went to a movie smack-dab in the middle of the day. Then we shopped for MORE office supplies, because the first place we went didn’t have everything we needed, and then we came home and I worked for a while.

Otto went and ran some errands and when he came back we ate dinner and watched a DVD. As the credits rolled it struck me that we’d had a really nice day. And maybe I was considering how we might have an even nicer evening, and so I scooched a little closer to Otto and leaned in…

… and a palmetto bug went scuttling across the living room floor.

To my credit, I didn’t scream. Not then, anyway. I merely yelped and pointed. Thus commenced a chase that involved a lot of moving furniture around and me dancing around on said furniture squeaking “Did you find it? Is it there? WHERE IS IT??” At one point we lost track of it and Otto was ready to give up the hunt, and my laptop was on the floor and I just KNEW that if I touched it, that would prove to be where the bug was hiding. So I asked Otto to please pick up my laptop and put it on the couch. Guess what! He found the bug hiding behind my laptop! (That’s when I screamed.)

Eventually we cornered it under the couch and sprayed it with carpet cleaner; this was enough to cause it to wander out, slightly drunk, so that I could gather up my bravery and yell, “THERE! THERE! GIVE ME THE CUP GIMME THE CUP GIMMETHECUPDAMMIT!” and slam a plastic cup down over it. I then sat on the couch with my heel holding the cup pressed into the carpet until Otto was ready to gather it up and throw it outside.

Once the palmetto bug had been evicted I had one more spasm of disgust twitch through me, and as I stood by the front door—shuddering—Otto laughed at me and reminded me that on my very first visit to Georgia last year I encountered a palmetto bug and I decided to move here anyway. I pointed out that that was a decision based on HIM and not so much on the availability of big ugly bugs. He laughed harder.

Wow, it is REALLY romantic, not having the kids here.


  1. Heather

    Have a great weekend – and may it henceforth remain completely palmetto free!!

  2. depechemom

    Wow! That many errands in one day…I don’t remember such a time in my life when that was possible.

    Ok, this is totally random, but we once discussed a chicken pot pie sans canned cream of chicken soup. I’ve found a delicious-thought not short on time-recipe. Here’s the link:

    Email me if the link doesn’t work. It’s gotta be the longest url ever known to man!

  3. Laura B

    Get a Bug Guy. There is nothing as reassuring as having toxic chemicals sprayed all over your home at regular intervals. They’ll even come beyond the regular schedule if you see something running. And don’t fool yourself- that was no “palmetto bug,” it was a roach. And it probably could fly. Boy, I reckon I sure don’t miss the South.

  4. Wendy

    Awe! He was just trying to welcome you to the South. But you had to get him all high and kick him out the door. Be careful, sometimes they gang up and come after you. That is what the geckos do over here. I just wait by the door and suck them up with the vacuum.

  5. Daisy

    Just a note about dry-erase markers: They don’t last. That’s the main reason we (wild and crazy) teachers ask parents to buy more than one. The other items? I list doubles for everything because it’s cheaper to buy two folders now than it is to replace one in January.
    Enjoy your naked weekend! (OMG, did I really say that?!)

  6. LuAnn

    Ah…the kids are away in body, yes, but their spirits linger on, do they not? :) I grew up in a rather arid climate, so there were few bugs. That was a BIG adjustment for me in Texas and Kentucky.

  7. Barb Cooper

    Ah, I can be a bit smug (wich is amazing considering school doesn’t start HERE until the 27th.) Our school orders the school supplies FOR YOU. For a huge honking fee, thank you, because it’s a “fundraiser.” I don’t care. I’d pay anything, ANYTHING, not to have to do hand-to-hand combat with some woman with steel teeth and a Hell’s Angel tattoo over the last pair of Fiskar’s scissors.

    My husband is from Houston and he can kill a palmetto bug with his bare hand. It was a factor in why I married him.

  8. sherry

    Being Canadian, I had never heard of the term “palmetto” bug before. I can not tell you how much I wish I had not decided to google it.

  9. Jenn

    Perhaps I’m a moron, but when did schools stop attaching a pencil sharpener to the wall in a classroom?

  10. Carla Hinkle

    What do you mean school starts in a WEEK??? It’s August 3rd??!!!!?! That is practically un-American!

  11. Kimberly

    ah, but just imagine how much MORE exciting the bug incident would have been if the kids had been there.

    (and how much more upsetting it would have been had you commenced with the naked.)

  12. susan

    I was reading about that tax free thing some states have at this time of year. In our area of California, there is nothing required to have at school. We just get what we think they need, and the Salvation Army buys our kids backpacks with supplies, its so everyone has the same stuff I guess.
    Have a lovely weekend, wish I could ship my kids with yours.

  13. Chris

    Hairspray works wonders on stopping all bugs in their tracks. Even the Palmetto variety. You are too funny.

  14. Cele

    I know some people play hero saves damsel in distress… but honey that is some strange foreplay. You’ve had children way too long.

  15. LadyBug Crossing

    You are as romantic as we are… and we’ve been married almost 18 years…

    You’ve got to get a bottle of Naked Mountain Chardonnay so you can drink Naked naked.


  16. juliness

    Perhaps if you had been naked earlier you wouldn’t have noticed the bug at all. :-)

  17. Randi

    Wow! You put the kids on a plane by themselves?! That would scare the crap outta me.

  18. Lisa

    Ha ha ha… I hate school shopping so much! And oh how I miss the naked weekends when the kids are gone. Enjoy!

  19. Barb

    Although I know parents generally don’t believe it, and the makers of cheap school supplies don’t want you to know it, the name brand stuff (Crayola, Fiskars, Elmers, etc) really does work better and last longer than the knockoff varities. It’s not like we get a kick-back from the company for asking parents to buy brand names!

    And like Daisy, I ask the parents of my kinder-kids to buy way more than they need intially so that I’m not sending them notes in January to replace this or that. Much easier just to have storage tubs in my room with extra glue sticks, crayons, folders, etc.

    Several businesses in our community band together and do a “back to school fair” at the beginning of August. All the parents have to do is register their kids a week in advance, then they can go pick up all the needed supplies, a book bag, get a hair cut, have their shot record looked over and updated if needed – a total back to school package, completely for free.

  20. jenn

    Sherry, I too googled palmetto bugs and am pretty sure I will have nightmares for a week.

    Daisy is right, but she left out the fact that only about a third of parents pprovide their child with the teacher requested supplies.

  21. Melisa

    So then, this wasn’t the good kind of screaming?

    BTW: Our kids have been back in school for 2 weeks now. The good news is we had first dibs on the school supplies.

  22. Shash

    Ah…Welcome to the South. Just wait till you see a flying roach. That’ll freak you out too.

    Bug Guy. Highly recommend. Also? Don’t open windows as much as you may have done in New England. I learned that lesson the hard way, and I grew up here in Florida.

    When we first moved in after our house was built, we had a mouse scurry across our floor, and I sat on my kitchen table until my husband caught it. Your story made me remember that time. :)

    I can laugh about it now, but then? Not so funny.

    Enjoy the weekend of the nakedness!


  23. tammy

    Our Bug Guy says that this is the worst summer for bugs that he has seen in his whole entire life as a Bug Guy because of the drought.

    If it makes you feel any better, he also says you don’t have to worry until you see the little ones. If you see little ones, it means they’re setting up housekeeping. The big ones are just moseying through.

  24. The Other Leanne

    Palmetto bugs, Mutant Roaches all. When I lived in the Armpit Of The Orient legend had it that geikos were good to have around because they ate the roaches.
    Or you could just get a pair of really thick-soled boots so that when you stomp on them you don’t feel the crunch.

  25. YetAnotherKaren

    They have those in Phoenix, except with the lovely and descriptive name of Sewer Roaches. I moved there having never seen a roach of any sort in my sheltered life, but I had seen a LOT of ads for roach motels. When a sewer roach scuttled over my hand (!!) and dropped heavily to the floor when I was reaching in the pantry for a graham cracker for my toddler, I wondered how the HELL those huge suckers could fit in those tiny roach motels.

  26. Dawn

    After reading Sherry’s and Jenn’s comments, I shall save my delicate Canadian self from the trauma of Googling a Palmetto.

    I was the bug killer in my marriage, but it was only the tiny, weensy (by comparison) bugs we get north of the 49th parallel. And vacuuming up geekos? Eeeeeeewww!!!!

  27. Beth

    Palmetto bugs crack me up! They’re big enough they almost have personalities, and they’re sooo stupid ;-) They used to come into the store I worked at in Houston when it rained… and they could never figure out how to get back out. They tried, but just couldn’t do it. I’d shoo them back out with a broom after the rain and they’d just toddle off.

    Too funny – and for someone who doesn’t like bugs, for me to think they’re kinda silly is a big thing ;-)

  28. MaryP

    Having always lived north of the 49th, I had no idea what a ‘palmetto bug’ was, so off I go to Wikipedia, and discovered it’s a cockroach. THOSE I know. Not now, but when I was a student, living in student housing. Ugh.

    I’m sure you will be pleased to know that on a scale of six graduations, from EX (extinct) to LC (least concern), yer palmetto bug there is a strong and solid LC.


  29. Beth Blecherman

    We really missed ya at BlogHer. Little did I know you were hanging with the palmetto bugs. Yes I did see them before in Florida. As my mom always said to me when I was little – “give them a name and then they will seem like a pet”. In reality, I do agree with the spray the bug with the closest cleaner.

  30. Jenifer

    As a fellow New Englander ….. I hate BUGS!!

    I don’t think I could ever move to Georgia, no matter how much I loved the guy….kudos to you girl!

  31. jodi

    Dry erase markers? sheesh! We have to provide several boxes of Kleenex. That always gets me…

  32. jen

    Things are different here (Australia) when it comes to school supplies for primary schools, or supplies for a publicly funded primary school anyway. I pay school fees (not that much really) and they provide everything except the contact to cover the books. For your kids teachers keeping track of everyone’s stuff must be a nightmare.

    Hope you have a lovely, smoochy week.

  33. Bri

    I was curious about the palmetto bug, but I don’t think I will be googling it after what everyone else has said.

    The pencil sharpeners are something I learned about from experience while interning, anything that keeps your students in their seats is a good thing. And it takes about a week for most to lose the first one.

  34. Ani

    I’ve been in many of the classroom at my son’s 700+-kid elemntary school. Not a single pencil sharpener to be had.


    I sympathize with trying to keep kids in seats, but purposeful movement is a great way to keep antsy kids on-task.

  35. Kelsie

    Hi! I am a lurker. I have been reading for several months now and you are hysterical! I love this site. You constantly crack me up. Thanks for the laughs.

    In Texas, we have those as well. Growing up on the lake, they were everywhere. We used to call them “Buicks” b/c they are so huge and almost the size of a buick compared to other bugs. The common term for them around these parts are water bugs. It is still a roach but saying water bug sounds oh so much better.

  36. KayBeeJae

    Eeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwww, I never want to see one of those bugs. Cockroaches at least have the decency to be small and squishable in NZ although a Giant Cave Weta is definately a sight to see! (but not a relative of the roach).
    Have to say that I agree with Kimberley the bug incident would have been much worse if nakedness had already been started.

  37. Michele

    I’m glad the kids got to see their dad. I’m sure they needed that badly. Maybe he can move there because I’m sure it’s becoming clear to you that they miss and need their dad.

    I hate BUGS. I have been to the south (Alabama) and I saw enough Palmetto bugs to last me a life time. I’ll take California ANYDAY.

  38. Suzanne

    aaahh yes. Welcome to Georgia!

    You see? Y’all should have gotten naked instead of playing around with big ugly bugs! ha

  39. Cassie

    Oh my freaking lord do I hate big bugs. Was it one of the big ones that’s like the size of your head (or maybe just your thumb)? Because one of those guys was once walking along my ceiling when I was sleeping, and I woke up and saw it LET GO and fall at my face.

    Needless to say, I moved my bed the next day.

  40. Mimipz5wjj

    I’m with everyone else — eww on the bug and get a bug service! We have one and I swear to heck I would not do with out one… not here in GA anyway!!!


  41. MsRebecca

    Ahh.. I thought I would love to pack the 6 yr. old off to go to Daddy’s but I miss him terribly when he’s gone, I secretly wish he’ll call me to come get him.. he never does.. *sigh*

  42. ben

    Nekkid Palmetto Bug Stomping is a competitive (and sometimes, spectator) sport down this way.

    Welcome to the South…

  43. Angela

    Seriously, how can you call it a palmetto bug? I googled it too and SERIOUSLY! Its a freaking roach. I grew up in Houston, I grew up around roaches. I remember my dad fixing someone’s computer and when it was opened – out poured roach after roach. You can’t dress the name up to lesson the grossness. A roach is a roach is a roach. And now I understand why you freaked out over a bug. . . . BECAUSE IT WAS A ROACH! (sorry for the freakout but I HATE ROACHES!)

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