Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Spiders, earwigs and mice – oh, my!

Things that crawl and slither do not bother me.   Over the years I have been known to engage in major battle with all manner of icky things, when need be.  I realize that doesn’t jibe with the stereotypical image of the fairer species, but the fact that I own a wall full of frilly aprons and enough lipstick to carry me through the year 2036, makes me a bonafide, card-carrying member of all things girly.  Still, I’m a bit G.I. Jane (more Navy Seal than She-Who-Squeals) when it comes to fighting Things That Make You Go, “Ew!”

 

I made a pact with myself a long time ago that no insect, rodent or creepy-crawly thing will lead to my undoing.  I am woman, hear me roar – or, at least shriek very loudly (yet, roar-like) – as I go into battle with things that bug me.  When it comes down to vermin vs. me… I will win.  But, when the going gets rough or comes in swarms, I’m smart enough to call in back-up, hired guns, if I must.

 

My first call of duty was at the tender age of 17, when I was called upon by an elder (she was 19) who issued the Command of Attack when a giant spider set up camp in her apartment shower stall.  Since her younger sister (16) would not avenge her older sister in the arachnid arena, I, as visitor had to earn my keep (and the respect of the older sister, who I really looked up to).  Sure, I’m being a bit melodramatic and it WAS just a lil’ bitty ol’ spider, but it truly felt as though I was going into battle as I armed myself with a fly swatter and a most serious frown as I set off to vanquish the creature.  Pttthh.  There was no conquering being done that day.  That spider ran down his web at three teenaged girls; one in a towel, two nearly drenched by association, but all screaming bloody murder as they ran hither and yon.  As far as we were concerned, that spider saw us as a three hundred pound (combined) moveable feast of phalagioides lickin’ goodness.

 

That episode notwithstanding, I grew up relatively brave in the face of all things creepy crawly.  I attribute that to the boys I dated in high school.  Well, the football player, mostly.  When you’ve spent long evenings in the back of a car continually swatting at the object of your affection, who seems to have sprouted four sets of arms (octopus/spider – no big diff) and hickey-inducing fangs… you quickly become adept at the cross and parry defensive moves of moral survival.  Grow up and encounter the tinier arthropod version of that guy and your cries of, “Oh, I don’t THINK so!” become even more fearless.

 

These days, it is my 18 year old daughter who needs to arm herself and evolve, from screaming damsel to warrior, when it comes to pests.  She can handle herself against the two-legged variety quite well, thank you very much.   Six or more legs, she withers.  To be fair, she HAS had an onslaught of gnarly bug battles recently while living near Phoenix, AZ.  Currently, she is housed in a beautifully appointed, fully furnished two bedroom corporate apartment with two pools, a billiards room, gym and private movie theatre.  What the glossy brochure did NOT indicate alongside the rules of occupancy, was any mention of the non-rent paying roommates that would be moving in from the vast desert terrain.  Sequestered in corners and under the bedcovers my sweet baby girl has found (in the last ten days) grasshoppers, crickets, earwigs, cockroaches, wolf spiders, funnel web spiders and I’m pretty darn sure one of those nefarious Arizona Brown Spiders… whose toxic venom necrotizes flesh and whose bite may, or may not, be fatal. During late night frantic phone calls I can almost hear her splashing about in a puddle of flop sweat fear.

 

Despite my pep talks, where I shout things into the phone like, “You have to be fearless!  Remember, you are my warrior princess!  The fierce daughter of a woman who knows how to use power tools, scare muggers and carry her own luggage through hot and crowded international airports (even though she won’t if she doesn’t have to)!  You CANNOT and WILL NOT let these eensy beensy things win!”  Too late.  After finding a pincer bug in her sheets, she has moved to the sofa.  The bugs have won.  They now have two queen beds to roll around in, bed bugs, all.

 

It is believed that one person in ten suffers from some phobia at least once in their lives.  Phobias about insects are the most common of all and a severe phobia can be as disabling as any anxiety disorder.  There are ways to overcome the fear of insects and transform from entomophobe to phobia-free.  One is through desensitization – exposure to the very thing you fear, in order to re-condition your physical and mental responses.  Gradually, anxiety decreases as new feelings begin to replace the old.  Another way is through anchoring, where the nervous system creates a link between feelings and experience – for example, when you hear a song or smell cookies baking and it takes you right back to the emotions and feelings from the first time you experienced it.  Both desensitization and anchoring can be helpful in dire cases of insect phobia, for which a therapist should be consulted.

 

In the meantime, my daughter has only me and my years of experience as Creepy Crawly Commander to guide her.  We’ve discussed weapons and artillery (toilet bowl brushes, magazines, bug spray and Windex), battle gear (heavy socks), strategy (lights on, shaking sheets, hanging clothes) and ROE, or Rules of Engagement, to determine when, where and how force should be used (Earwig? Re-locate / Spider?  Kill on sight / Mouse? Exterminator needed).

 

For now, I believe things are, more or less, under control and I trust that my daughter’s continued exposure to Things That Make You Go “Ew!” will make her stronger and much more capable of bravely fighting her own battles (bugs or otherwise).  However, if the rodents start infiltrating her space?  I’m not above hiring a mercenary to take care of business.  After all, a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.  Looking cute while doing it, is just a bonus.

 

“The first day one is a guest, the second a burden, and the third a pest.”  — Jean de la Bruyere

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