Spare the Bug! A Dad on Ridding His House of Pests
The latest "Father Figuring" column
Jessie often yells these words. Part of my job description as dad includes keeping a bug-free home. Although Jessie wants every bug removed, she is unwilling to execute the task herself, even for the tiniest bugs. When Jessie calls, Dad comes running with a tissue, paper towel or sneaker. The task seems simple enough, but then comes Jessie’s next statement.
“Dad, don’t kill it!”
That’s right, I’m supposed to gently transport the trespassing bug out of the house and set it free in the great outdoors. In most cases, I’m quick enough to capture and remove the insect so Jessie can move on with her activities uninterrupted. Unfortunately for the bug, unless it’s a ladybug or a lightning bug, trespassers are prosecuted to the fullest extent. Ants, mosquitos, gnats, moths, flies, cockroaches and other unidentifiable critters are squeezed with a tissue or paper towel, swatted with a flyswatter or smashed with the bottom of my sneaker.
I’m thankful Jessie has a compassionate heart. I certainly wouldn’t want a giant to chase after me and squeeze me between his fingers or squash me with his big shoe. I’d like to think that at 6 feet, 5 inches tall, I’m a kind, compassionate “giant”; however, bugs can spread diseases or leave itchy bite marks. They must go, never to return.
As defender of our house, I view my duty as protector of the family, so my wife, daughter, dog and I can sleep and not get bitten, crawled on or affected by whatever else bugs do. Don’t you hate it when a mosquito zooms into your ear and makes that miserable buzzing noise while you’re trying to sleep?
Many years ago, shortly after we moved to Florida, a bug nearly caused me to wreck our car. My wife, Mattie, and I were driving down the road soaking up the Gainesville sunshine when something flew through the open window. I glanced down and there, sitting on the seat between Mattie and me, was the biggest cockroach I had ever seen. In the South, they’re called “Palmetto bugs” and they are humongous. As calmly as I could, I pulled over to the shoulder and we were able to shoo the bug out of the vehicle.
The way I see it, a “giant” can’t please everyone. When you live in the South, no matter how many times you spray or clean the house, a cockroach will occasionally trespass. If Mattie sees it before Jessie, I’ll hear, “Pat! Cockroach! Come quick!”
I’ll come running with paper towel in hand or sneaker on foot to address the problem. So, I view myself as a protector of my family — not a destroyer of bugs’ families — a position that disappoints my daughter.
Though I applaud Jessie’s compassionate spirit, I don’t see myself running after bugs with a cup and sheet of paper. OK, to be honest, I have done this a few times. Dads want to look good in front of their children.
Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year professional career in banking, accounting and auditing before he became a father at age 44. He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad and author of “MoMENts: A Dad Holds On,” available on Amazon. Learn more about him at patrickhempfing.com.