We’re recruiting them for the band

The first day of school was—if not a success—acceptable. Our school has what is supposed to be an orderly procedure for distributing children at the end of the day; there’s a web of driveway and parking lot areas that IN THEORY make for an optimal traffic pattern. The buses go in HERE and the people who are parking (why are you parking, people??) go in HERE and if you’re picking up, you pull in over THERE and someone comes to ask you which child you’d like to kidnap and eat for dinner and then they radio back to the holding pen and someone brings your victim out. It’s a great system.

Or, it WOULD be, if anyone bothered to follow the rules. You know, I came over a thousand miles to this school, and I still managed to put on my big girl pants and ASK SOMEONE where I should go and what the procedure was for the end of the day. And yet I was able to sit there in my car (and sit there I did, for about 45 minutes) while people who’ve attended this school for years went IN the OUT drive, parked on the LAWN, and cut in front of other people. I wanted to put every one of those people into time-out.

When I failed to pull up and block the crosswalk, people just started pulling up in front of me. Of course, then I got to have the unparalleled joy of watching the crossing guard yell at them, but still.

Eventually—shortly before I died of old age, in fact—we made it to the front of the line and my children magically appeared. They flung their backpacks into the car and hopped in and buckled.

“Hi, guys!” I said.

“Hi!” they answered.

“How was your FIRST DAY of school?” I asked.

“Good!” they answered.

Aaaaaaand… then there was silence.

Alrighty, then.

I managed to extract a few details from them over the course of the afternoon and evening: Seven kids in Monkey’s class got into trouble, but he wasn’t one of them (whether he actually behaved or whether the teacher is giving him some latitude, I’m not sure); it is cold in the classroom and he thinks he’d like to wear jeans from now on (today’s forcast: 100 degrees. I made him wear shorts, because I am a big meanie); Chickadee’s teacher told them that she’s 28 and has taught for four years, all of them at that school; Chickadee had to sit next to a boy but she was told that today she can switch seats to sit with a girl; they had three recesses and half an hour for lunch (that’s a nice change from the 15 minutes they had at their old school).

Everyone was in one piece and no one seemed too traumatized, so we’ll call it good.

I, on the other hand, was somewhat traumatized because the prolonged pick-up time meant that we skidded into piano lessons after school with about two seconds to spare. I don’t like to be rushed. And I suspected that the kids weren’t going to be able to focus very well, going straight in from school and barely having time for a snack. (I threw some cereal bars at them. “EAT THOSE!” I yelled.)

[Digression: If you’re wondering how my first kid-free day went, you can read about it over here. That isn’t terribly important, but what IS important is that I didn’t mention that one of the phone calls I had to make yesterday was to my soon-to-be best buddies over at American Pest Control, because this was sadly NOT the last time I found a palmetto bug in the house. So I called them up and said “I DO NOT LIKE BUGS, SAM I AM” and then agreed to put me on their special no-more-bugs plan, which as near as I can tell involves them taking all my money and me kissing their feet.]

So we got to the studio and Monkey immediately starts cooing, “Ooooh! Caterpillars!” Now, the boy loves him some caterpillars, but Chickadee and I looked around in confusion until the piano teacher pointed out (and we could see for ourselves) that the studio is currently experiencing an infestation of centipedes. As in, they were all. over. the. floor.

And then I threw up and then I died. The end!

Um, well, that’s what I WANTED to do, but instead I watched as Monkey alternately had his lesson and leapt off the bench to gather up more “caterpillars” off the carpet. Then it was Chickadee’s turn and Monkey retreated to the adjoining room, where he commenced making a PILE of CENTIPEDES with great glee.

“You know,” I announced to no one in particular, “I just called American Pest Control today. They have a guarantee! So, um, perhaps if you called them my children would be becoming virtuosos instead of bug collectors.”

Watching the kids take piano lessons is interesting for me, anyway, even without bugs involved. Chickadee is working in an advanced beginner book and doing quite well, when she actually puts her mind to it. She often masks her frustration with not being perfect by being silly and/or returning to an earlier piece when asked to play her current one, and the piano teacher has never once smacked her (gold star for him, methinks). Monkey is in a very basic beginner book, and as he has the attention span of a gnat that’s as it should be; but every now and then that savant memory of his makes an appearance and he rattles off a piece from memory. More often, however, he is embarrassed to be struggling and does his Don Music impression (head flung down on the keyboard) rather than continuing to try.

(The teacher assures me that they’re both doing great. I wonder if perhaps I’m the only person who pays him on time.)

“I wonder what would happen if we put the centipedes up on the piano!” Monkey said on our way home. “Maybe after being in the studio all day they’ve learned a lot!”

I went to bed last night with visions of creepy-crawlies stuck in my head.

And in case you’re wondering, here is NOT what you want to hear first thing in the morning before the sun has even come up:

“Mom! There’s a… big grasshopper? on the ceiling in my bedroom!”

The bug guys are coming tomorrow afternoon. Until then, I guess I just have the kids practice piano and hope the critters like music.


  1. Leandra

    I hate to tell you this, but after the bug guys come you’ll still have bugs everywhere. They’ll just be dead. And frankly, I’m just as sick of picking up dead bugs as I am live ones. I just wish it would *)@#%)@% rain so all these bugs would go back OUTSIDE, where they BELONG, for their water. Sorry. Feeling a mite peckish this morning!

  2. MomCat

    Too much rain makes bugs come inside, too. Eeek! Palmetto bugs are the scourge of mankind. They are evil – you can tell by looking at them, which I avoid.

    I feel your pain on the carpool/parking issues. The school has rules but only about half of us actually follow them. Silly us! Why park when there is a carpool lane? They are picking up middle schoolers, who walk just fine and don’t need to be buckled into a carseat anymore. And, of course, they walk straight across the carpool lane without a glance. It’s downright hazardous.

  3. Not The Mama

    Ugh, welcome to GA. I love most things about it here, but the bugs are the one thing I could do with out. We’ve had quite a few Palmetto bugs in the house lately. Everytime it happens I have a meltdown. Last week there was one IN OUR BEDROOM crawling on the wall RIGHT ABOVE THE BED. I did not sleep for days.

  4. Ruth

    When I lived in the south I discovered that the professional bait works much better than spraying (or the pesticide dust under/around the house). The bugs eat it and go back to their hiding places to die – then the other bugs eat them and go hide and die…it doesn’t have to be applied as frequently and doesn’t mean that active pesticides are all over everything. I suggest requesting bait.

    The drive up system at our elementary school was similar except that they changed it every year and didn’t bother to detail the new system to returning parents. It took them about a week to straighten it all out. Blocking the crosswalk though? Didn’t they pass a driver’s test?

  5. Barb Cooper

    Our school, which doesn’t start until the 27th (not that I’m bitter), actually stations teachers outside to keep the unruly carpool drivers in line. Nothing like being yelled at by your child’s teacher to make you straighten up –because your kid might D-I-E of embarrassment.

    Of course, some teachers might not want to go to college and work for dirt cheap AND have to yell at bad drivers, but there ya go. It would have a bad effect on our standardized test results if a kid were to get run over in the parking lot.

  6. Manic Mommy

    My skin is crawling just thinking about Monkey making centipede piles.

    Pay the exterminators, kiss their asses, sleep with them, whatever it takes to make.the.bugs.go.away.

  7. Heather

    If it makes you feel any better we are having spider problems here in New Hampshire. The other night I was reading and a fast black spider scurried across the bed toward me and disappeared under the pillows never to be found again! We now call my bed “the spider bed” and I seriously considered sleeping in my daughter’s twin bed , with my daughter still in it, rather then the spider bed!
    Glad the kids’ first day at school went so well!

  8. Woman with Kids

    I bet the bugs like the music… perhaps you could play a march for them, to get them moving and out the door?

  9. Aimee

    Ugh! Centipede piles. Palmetto bugs.

  10. M&Co.

    My god where do you live again?!? Jurassic Park? Isn’t the bug invasion first and then the dinosaurs?

  11. jenn

    I will never live in Georgia. The End.

  12. Karen

    School?! Sheesh, my kids are still in camp. We don’t start school until Sept. 6. When do you get out, in May?

  13. Sherry

    I’m a parker. Why? So I don’t have to deal with the drivers! In a matter of minutes, I can park my car, walk up to the door, fetch my kid, walk back to the car, and leave without having to deal with the idiot mofos who don’t follow the rules. Try it, you’ll like it.

  14. Karen

    Once upon a time, when I was married, we moved from California-which I hated-to the Panhandle of Florida which I hated somewhat less. Except for the bugs (well and the paddling for discipline in the local school…but anyway). While the ahem..water bugs (roaches)in California are big and ugly, the ahem Palmetto Bugs (roaches) in Florida beat them by a mile. They too are big and ugly and–they can fly! Woo!

    In the good old days in Florida I had a toddler and an infant. Not only am I a tree hugging, cloth diaper using, organic baby food buying nut, I also wouldn’t let the bug guys in my house. The aroma of the bug juice made me sick and my baby was crawling much closer to it than I was so… well, I wasn’t having it. My neighbors had to move out for three days after the bug guy finished with their condo. So, I did what I always do, I found a book. Called…”Tiny Game Hunting” (note: be careful if you ask for this book, the astonished store clerk thought I wanted a book called “Tiny Game Humping” which, well, caused a bit of a disruption at the counter) Anyway there was a recipe for roach death in the book. In case the bug juice makes you or your kids sick, or you think maybe it needs some help to hasten things along.

    Either use straight Borax and dust it all over the place where roaches crawl, along edges of walls, in corners, under sinks, at the edge of your doorway. Even the flying ones have to land sometime. You don’t want to know why, but if they walk through it they will eventually ingest it and it will kill them. You can use a turkey baster to blow it into cracks and such. Or to make bait…Mix up a cup of boric acid or Borax, half a cup of flour, a quarter-cup of powdered sugar, and one-half cup of ground oats..I know there’s sugar in this and you might not want to put sugar out and invite other pests, but you could probably leave the sugar out. Spread it behind and under dark damp places where roaches congregate. This will take some time, but it will do them in.

    Just thought I’d share. For more information look here http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/8778/roaches.html

  15. Michelle

    OK, they are called roaches, and everyone in the South has them. Most people who move from the North call them “Palmetto Bugs” because they are afraid to admit that they have roaches in their home. If you live in the North and have roaches in you house you are a nasty, filthy person. Not so in the the South. You could be so clean you make Martha Stewart look slovenly and you will still have roaches. Calling the bug man is a good idea, but this will only make the bugs go away for about 30 days, so make sure you keep him on speed dial. Don’t worry, just like the heat and the accents, you will get used to it :-)

  16. ScottsdaleGirl

    Centipedes? Aren’t they like Poisonous? EEKA!

  17. beth

    I went to school in Houston, which is hotter than Atlanta (and more humid). The dress code didn’t permit shorts, but the schools were refridgerated enough that this wasn’t a problem. Yes, you got hot in recess, but if you wear shorts you get hot at recess anyway and then you come inside to the 65 degree class room and freeze solid.

    So Monkey might not be kidding when he says he wants to wear jeans.

    Yeah, and they are roaches.

  18. Karen

    I, too, moved from the north to the south, from Minneapolis to Dallas. When we first moved into our house in Dallas, I started discovering piles of what looked like black rice. I had a sinking feeling that this was not good. Then I started seeing the “Water Bugs,” which, of course, is just a fancy name for flying cockroach. Ewww!

    When I found a pile of black rice all around my toothbrush, I freaked way the heck out and demanded serious action. My husband sprayed foam insulation or used caulk to fill every crack in the house. Then we called the bug guys. The serious bug guys. Forget about organic, let’s-be-kind-to-Mother-Earth bug guys — or you, too, could be looking at a pile of black rice near your toothbrush. (I have other horrors to tell, but I will refrain.)

    The bug guys made me feel better by saying that these are not look Northern, German cockroaches. German cockroaches infest an area and build nests in your walls and are really hard to get rid of. Water bugs, or Palmetto bugs, are basically outdoor bugs who wander inside. They don’t build nests there. Whew!

    Then, what really made me feel better was their poison. Lots of yummy poison. Inside, outside, everywhere. Just wait until it dries, and as long as you don’t lick it, you’ll all be just fine.

    The first time they came, we did have some dead bug follow-up. But the second time they came? Nothing. We’ve hardly had any in a year, and when we do find them, they’re already dead.

    I really have to laugh about the centipedes, because the only way I can resign myself to the occasional cockroach is to compare them to the occasional centipede we would find in our basement in Minnesota. They are the two creepiest critters ever! Except for maybe the humongous tree spiders we’ve been finding this year.

    Good luck with the critters. May they all stay outside or at least stay dead.

  19. Cele

    Ugh bugs.

  20. Linda

    Sorry to tell you, but you’ve traded the snow for the bugs. Being from the south and now living in Maine, I’ll take the snow and cold for half the year over bugs all year long.

  21. StephLove

    I’m glad they had a good, or at least acceptable day. Best of luck to both of them in the coming school year.

  22. AmyM

    Oh EWWWW! Bugs are one reason I could not live in the South. Clean, freezing cold snow outside or gross, nasty dirty bugs inside? Hmmm, let me think…
    I have to admit, I had never even heard of a palmetto bug, so I had to google it. Ewww! You poor, poor, poor thing!
    I have never seen a real-life cockroach before. I consider myself blessed.
    Godspeed with the bug guys!

  23. Parrot Wrangler

    We dealt with a roach infestation in our apartment by letting 2 geckos loose to hunt ’em down.We got this idea from some friends that owned an aquarium store in an old building that had roaches for decades; a shipment of geckos got loose-and no more problem. As crazy as it sounds,IT WORKED! Soon the other people in our building(who had endured spraying)were asking us where they could get some. We found out that many people in tropical areas in Southeast Asia don’t move into a house until the geckos move in. I never found a gecko poop and just occasionally would be startled by a gecko popping out from behind a shampoo bottle.

  24. Kendra

    As a piano teacher, I never give students a lesson the first week of school much less the first day! With some, I’ll even wait 2 weeks (1st graders). But bugs in the studio?? That’s disgusting! I would cancel lessons for sure! How unprofessional.

  25. Rachel May

    Bugs = yucky.

    And I’d like to point out that I noticed that you are posting in the a.m. rather than the middle of the night since you got maaaaaarieeeeeeeed.

    Hope it’s not because you’re getting more sleep. ;-)

  26. Kira

    No no no no no no NO. Because you said there were centipedes all over the floor and that Monkey was collecting them, and that simply cannot be true because I would have to die. They were…lizards…or wee snakes…or, as Monkey said, CATERPILLARS, because THEY WERE NOT CENTIPEDES.

  27. Burgh Baby's Mom

    I distinctly remember that I was not allowed to wear shorts to school “way back in my day.” Granted, I lived in North Dakota and no one in their right mind would wear shorts anyway, but I digress. Anyway, Monkey’s a luckly little man to have the choice, even if you do force the wrong answer upon him ;-)

  28. The Other Leanne

    I’m with Jenn–I will never live in Georgia. Or Florida. Or ‘bama or any other place where it is hot enough and humid enough to grow bugs like that. Thank you, God, for my ugly, slimy slugs even when they come in stuck to the cat’s fur and die on my floor. You can keep your dang roaches.

  29. D

    ewww! We’ve so far this year in the NorthEast battled carpenter ants, a weird swarm of houseflys congegating only in our cellar/playroom, and some weird sawfly/caterpillar that devoured an entire pine needled bush in front of our house. Not to mention the mites that ate my Larkspur or the other ones that are joyfully eating my primroses. I’ll take them all over your “palmetto” bugs. You keep yours and I’ll keep mine!

  30. Marie

    OMG I thought you lived in Georgia not Tennessee !! I swear people go crazy when they get in the car rider line.

  31. Carrie

    I live in a 90 year old house in southern GA and I had to get a monthly contract with an exterminator. When we first moved into our house the previous owners left us with a flea infestation. We were practically eaten alive and there were other critters roaming around as well. At first I saw lots of dead bugs, but with him coming once a month, I only find one or two dead bugs and see no live ones except for the occasional fly or spider in the window sill. Well worth the money.

    Best wishes on the bugs. Glad to hear you have your kids in piano lessons (I’m a music teacher, you know).

  32. Tracey

    I didn’t understand why you were so freaked out by a ‘bug’, until I looked it up and found out that Palmetto bugs are _cockroaches_. So, yes, I relate to your disgust. I’ve had to start getting used to them since moving north (which is the equivalent of your moving south). We get the place sprayed from time to time, but it doesn’t seem to work that well. We’ve had a break over winter, but now that it’s warming up again, they are making an appearance again. Yukko.

  33. Wendy

    Maybe, there is a no bugs plan you can pay for the piano lessons. Seriously, I would pay the extra money, before those bugs gang up and carry you and your children off.

    Now, I will feel creepy crawlers for the rest of the night.

  34. Crisanne

    The gecko’s really do work. My parents had great success with them.

    And don’t say I didn’t warn you about the cold building…he’s likely got one of the “cold” rooms. Every building has a few.

    Hope the week continues to improve!

  35. InterstellarLass

    Wow, your school pickup experience sounds a bit like ours. On a street that’s only 3 cars wide. Meaning one parked on each side of the street, and everyone else making their way, alternately, down the middle. It’s insane. Combine with new teachers that are taught to not think for themselves, and it’s a blast!

  36. Mimipz5wjj

    Love my bug guys too! I can’t imagine living here with out them!

    And carpool? That’s why we have buses! I dread the days I have to pick up at school… such a nightmare! And Atlanta drivers — The Worst!

  37. K

    In February, when I am cursing the 20 degree below zero weather and the snow here in Wisconsin, I will just say to myself “Ah, well, at least I don’t have big ugly roach-like bugs.”

    So, now, you should say to yourself now, “Well, at least it doesn’t get colder than the north pole here and I will never have 2 feet of snow to shovel.”

    Does your school have buses? or do all the parents have to drive their kids?

  38. jean

    If I had known what the school parking lot would be like I would have choosen to live further from the school. That way my son could have taken the bus. Now that he’s in middle school he walks home and I am saved from having homicidal thoughts every afternoon.

  39. Jenifer

    Bugs ****SHUDDER****

    better you than me!

  40. kim

    Im out west in CA and my house is a giant, museum quality, well navigate ant farm. We dont use pesticides, so Ive sprinkled baking powder around to thwart their movement, but not much luck. At night, I think I feel them crawling on me- while I sweat, because we are also in the midst of a scorching heat wave. I might as well be in Georgia!

    PS. our local school has parents lining up onto the main road, the very thin main road, which means nobody can take that road the hours before/after pickup/drop off!! Tres annoying!

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