1, 2, 3, 4, I declare a worm war

By Mir
February 7, 2020

I think I mentioned that Chickadee moved back home with allllll her stuff, and the idea is that she’s taking this semester she should’ve still been in school to kind of decompress and tend to her health (HAAAAAAAHAHAHAHA because 20-somethings are notorious for taking good care of themselves, amirite?) and figure out what’s next, and then around May or maybe before (she said, trying not to sound too eager), she’ll move back out to another apartment, taking all of this stuff with her. We’d cleaned out the attic, some, but let’s just say that organization is not my darling daughter’s strong suit, and as a result, her entire bedroom is filled with various boxes and bins and her closet is a hazard zone and she regularly has to go into the attic for something we stored which she needs, etc.

This is all fine, by the way. First world problems, for sure. It will all get sorted. Eventually.

Approximately once a day when I’m feeling content and loving, I offer to help her go through her stacks and piles and get organized, and every time she tells me “later” or “tomorrow” or “not yet.” (Conversely, approximately three times a day when she’s driving me nuts, I ask when she’s moving out.) And so here we are, nearly two months after graduation, and everything is still a huge mess and I don’t know about you, but I am TOTALLY SHOCKED by this state of affairs.

Did I mention that Otto and I—after 12 years of wedded bliss in spite of mismatched furniture—finally bought ourselves a bedroom suite where all the pieces match? It’s like we’re grownups, or something! We listed some of the old furniture for sale, which (predictably) resulted in a number of HEY CAN U DELIVER or I WUD LIKE TO BUY IT BUT FOR MANY FEWER DOLLARS sorts of emails, and we sold a couple of pieces, but then it occurred to either Chickie or us that my old dresser is much larger than her current one, so we agreed to swap them. But. She has to clear a large enough path in her room to bring in the new dresser, clear out the old one, etc. In the meantime, said larger dresser is residing… in our family room. Just hanging out on the back wall by the front door, as large pieces of displaced furniture do. Not weird at all. I am not at all impatient to get it out of there, no. *twitch*

The point is: There are THINGS that need DOING that aren’t actually happening, and I am mildly irked about it.

Do you know what IS happening? Among the eight thousand pounds of stuff which my darling offspring brought home with her was a purple wiggle worm. Do you know wiggle worms? I did not. I said, “What IS that?” and was met by howls of laughter. Because apparently wiggle worms are all the rage on TikTok, or something. Behold:

It’s a fuzzy worm on a nearly invisible piece of twine, making them ideal for the illusion of it moving independently while the twine is manipulated. Where did this worm come from? I have no idea. But Chickadee brandished it with a flourish one day, declared his name to be Bartholomew, and promptly left it on the kitchen table at some point because she leaves her stuff everywhere. I asked her to put it away and she giggled. That should’ve been my first clue.

The next day, Bartholomew dangled from the wall in the kitchen, his twine nearly impossible for me to visualize without my reading glasses (shut up, I’m old). I managed to detangle him from his perch and took him upstairs while Chickie was out. After a quick survey of the possibilities, I wrapped him around the cord dangling from the ceiling fan in her room. She runs the fan year-round, and apparently when she got home and flicked on the light and the fan started going, Bartholomew began careening around in a circle.

A couple of days later, he was back downstairs, dangling from a different light fixture. I removed him and placed him in a shoe that I’d been asking my college graduate adult child to take out of the family room for a solid week. It took her a few days to wear the shoes again and find him, but when she did, she came to me that night full of glee. “Oh, I see,” she said. “It’s on. We’re having a worm war.”

I rolled my eyes. I may have suggested that if she spent half the time she spent moving her stupid worm around the house actually, you know, CLEANING HER DAMN ROOM, she’d be done with the chore in no time. She laughed at my grumpiness, undeterred, and told me “We’re playing a game! This is SO FUN!” I sighed and left the room without comment.

(Adult children! Just like toddlers, but more evil!)

And then, Otto and I left to go on a little mini trip for a long weekend, and I forgot all about Bartholomew. We ate good food and slept late and I read a whole novel cover to cover and did several paintings and we had entire conversations about things which were not 1) work, 2) politics, or 3) the children. It was lovely.

The children stayed here and took care of the house and the dogs, and even though we came home to discover a reflector had been run over in the driveway by one of their friends and they somehow “forgot” to pick up the dog poop, the inside of the house was surprisingly clean and everyone was in good spirits. Wow, adult children are GREAT, I thought! We can travel a lot more now!

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long to figure out why they were so jolly upon our return. (It wasn’t that they’d missed us, in case you’re deluded enough to think that was why.) While I fully expected to find Bartholomew lurking somewhere weird upon our return, I had underestimated both my daughter AND my son’s capacity for evil when asked to be a coconspirator. We were gone for just a few days but GUESS WHAT? In our absence, an entire package of wiggle worms had been procured, and they were FUCKING EVERYWHERE.

To date, I have removed worms from: the chandelier (Lighttholomew), the refrigerator (Fridgetholomew), the freezer (Icetholomew), my bathroom ceiling (Batholomew), the shower head in the bathroom in my office, the coffee maker (Caffeinolomew), the bottom of a vase (Vasetholomew), the laundry closet, several cabinets, the toaster oven (Toasttholomew), the front door (Greettholomew), a chair, and a few other locations I’ve forgotten. Also I only hear their names when one of the kids catches me removing one. There is still a worm dangling from the bird feeder outside my office (it’s been raining so I don’t think that one’s feeling so great…) and another attached to a sign over the fireplace about 10 feet up (Walltholomew). I am collecting them and silently plotting. And—AND!—I’ve been informed that there are “plenty” I still haven’t found.

Why, just last night in the kitchen, after I had SO GENEROUSLY (that’s what you love about me, that I’m humble and never toot my own horn…) spent a considerable amount of time giving a haircut and dye job to a friend of Chickie’s, ALL THREE YOUNG ADULTS sat there laughing at me after Chickadee cackled that there were still two missed worms in the kitchen alone which I hadn’t yet located. I am BAFFLED. And a little afraid I’m going to end up eating one.

Did I pull Monkey aside and try to crack him? Maybe. Chickie and her friend shoved him back from the brink, though, and soon enough he was shrugging and insisting that he really wasn’t sure, he couldn’t remember, who knows, worms? What worms did I mean?

But she could not POSSIBLY go through her mountains of belongings, no, she’s very busy. Busy driving me insane.

Hit me up with your best revenge scenarios. (Bonus points for emailing instead of posting here so the kids won’t see. Turnabout is fair play, darlings.)


  1. Julie

    I wonder if my children know about these worms. Last year in middle school, hundreds of tiny plastic babies were procured and hidden around the school. This year, she actually got *permission* from her math teacher to hide plastic babies in the classroom, but when they became a distraction (who knew?) with other classes, the teacher kindly asked her to remove them all.

  2. Lisa Mahoney

    This past summer, my mom went on a two week vacation and, while she was gone and I was watching her dog, I hid 50 tiny plastic ducks ALL OVER HER HOUSE, some in obvious places, some in not-so-obvious places. I still don’t think she’s found all of them!!
    Then, my brother went away for a weekend and my mom was watching HIS pet, so she took about 25 of them over there and hid them in HIS house! 🤣🤣

  3. Susie

    I’m not laughing at your plight, not at all… but I maaaay be saving ideas and researching these “wiggle worms” for when my children age up a smidge. Right now they do the same thing but with Nerf darts and Hot Wheels- not quite the same but they don’t seem to know the difference. Yet.

  4. Maryelena

    Different but reminded me of this thing I read where someone and her husband have a game of taking something they are downsizing (say a mug) and leaving it at other people’s homes(sliding a mug into a cabinet, book in a shelf). They have been doing it for several years without getting caught.

  5. Jill

    A co-worker once decided to hide plastic mice around the space. That was fun.

  6. Niki

    This is not at all helpful, but every year the Seniors at school must come up with a prank in their last week. In the past few years they have been warned that their prank may not be destructive or too distracting to the other students on campus, nor can it require time from the maintenance crew to clean up – or else. In years prior to that, they had zip-tied all the Middle and Upper School lockers shut, as well as the drinking fountains somehow. Most years they put bubbles in the waterfall, which was cool to look at as they blew huge sheets of foam all over campus, but this was detrimental to local fowl and fauna, and required the waterfall to be drained and scrubbed. One year they stapled about 100 paper cups side by side in the Upper School Director’s office, then filled them up with milk (he was from Wisconsin – that one was a treat). Now with the threat in place, they have gotten much tamer – last year all the Seniors showed up one morning to school with their dogs. They were promptly sent home and told to return without the dogs. The year before they filled up the Upper School Office Director’s office with diapers and wipes (he and his wife had just had a baby). It’s just not much fun anymore.

    • Niki

      Forgot the ducks, the whole point of the comment. 2 years ago, they bought something like 1000 mini rubber ducks and put them all over campus. And i mean ALL over. They were in places that would have required big ladders to get to. They were in outside window wells 2 stories up. There are still a few on campus (including one outside our office on a second story interior windowsill that overlooks a gallery) that nobody has gotten around to taking down.

  7. Brigitte

    A friend did this to one of her friends, but with various pictures of Nicholas Cage. They’re still being found, seven years later.

  8. Karen Milano

    Well now I have to mention because I think you and I are approximately the same age although you are approximately a few years younger – but.. those worms were around when we were kids, you never saw them? They came out in the 1970’s and were called Squirmles or Snoots. And yes, I have the perfect payback for you. Let me see if I can find your e-mail…

    • 12tequilas

      Karen, glad you mentioned this because I was remembering the same thing. I will add: I was pretty young, and when I saw the ads for these things I thought they moved on their own. Was quite disappointed when my granddad just attached some fishing line rather than cause it to come alive or whatever.

  9. Chris

    “Adult children! Just like toddlers, but more evil!” – love this

    I am not good with payback but it is fun to see how the games advance as they get older. In the not so good attempts, my sister told my mother as an April fools joke “she was pregnant”. Given she was in high school and it was a reasonable scenario, this was not one of her finest moments – she was not quickly forgiven even after she came clean. :(

    Worm war for the win!

  10. Little Bird

    My mother and I have a similar war going on with a weird handmade poseable HUGE spider. It never goes in bedrooms though. I will confess to putting it with the toilet paper reserve in the bathroom. A friend gave me the spider in a care package, so I recently sent her a rubber rat.
    Collect as many of the worms as possible. Save them. When she gets a place to live, leave one somewhere in the new place. Do this every time you visit. Put one in every package you send her. And when you run out? Move on to something like tiny rubber frogs. Anything small that you can purchase in bulk.

  11. Little Bird

    May I suggest putting one inside a bathbomb? You put it in a little plastic container. There are LOTS of tutorials on how to make a bathbomb online…. 😈

  12. Chuck

    Do you have access to her voicemail, where you could record a new message? Much more difficult today than it once was I know. I only mention this because the best prank I ever pulled involved changing the message on my friend’s answering machine back in the 90s when I was in town for a visit, and he didn’t notice it for months, until he was at a bar with some co-workers and one of them gave him a quarter and said “Call your home phone.” (Ah, the days before cellphones were common…)

  13. Miss mae

    My step dad changed my garmin’s voice to Dora the explorer. I had no clue till I got on the highway on my way to DC. Its scared the crap out of me and also I learned directional Spanish… this was before Google had maps… but I can say map in Spanish so that’s a win

  14. Katherine

    I had one of those worms when I was a kid!
    Also my husband and coworkers used to hide the “baby” out of Marci Gras king cakes in various places around their school. Then someone bought a bunch and they were all over the place. One of his coworkers gave me a few to hide for him in his new school (international school in South Korea) to remember them by. Sadly the tradition didn’t catch on here.

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