A Bedbug Emergency: Mom to the Rescue

One night a mom named Val was at a birthday party—a fun girls’ night out—drinking wine and dancing to music and laughing. When suddenly her phone rang.

An angry young voice shouted out the scariest words she’s ever heard:  “Mom, I have bedbugs.”  In Val’s head she heard the needle on the record scratch zzzzz.  The party ended right then and there.

You see, Val was very happy that her kids never had lice, her dog never had fleas, and her basement never had mold. Those are scary things.

My son John didn’t see any bugs.  But he had a weird rash that turned into three bites in a row the next day; a telltale sign it’s bedbug bites. The University checked the room. No sign. The roommate wasn’t getting bitten. They weren’t convinced.

Maybe John had a food allergy? Hives? I’m 800 miles away texting and leaving voicemails for John who would text me back, “Mom, chillax!”

Then we find out that his roommate now has bites all over his back. John has more. The school finally reveals that the girls two rooms down brought the bugs. They opened a bin from summer storage and the bugs came out. They travel fast.

Now the boys must move out so they can treat the room. And because bedbugs travel on clutter (they’re called hitchhikers) we must be uber careful not to bring one bug to the new room. The boys are miserable. They admit they haven’t slept in weeks, they’re sleeping in friends’ rooms, they sleep with one eye open—it becomes a head trip—you think the bugs are everywhere.  And midterms are coming up.

So I volunteer to extend my parent’s weekend trip and help them move. I had no idea what I’d signed up for. But soon found out.

I first had to explain to/brainwash the boys on what a big deal this is. They didn’t get it. They were exhausted and this was an interruption of their fun. (Tell me about it.)  Every single thing they owned had to be put in a hot dryer for 30 minutes. Bedbugs can’t tolerate heat and this is 100% effective.

Ironically, (I think a gift from above) I had a laundry room down the hall from my hotel room. I instructed the boys to put every article of clothing and cloth (including wall banners, computer bags, shoes, blazers, bedding) in plastic trash bags and tie them tight.  I sprayed the trunk of my rental car with bedbug spray and transported the bags back and forth to hot dry everything. It took 4 days to do it all.

I’m sure I looked so suspicious in the hotel parking lot cameras. Every day I called to extend my stay for one more day.  Every day I took big trash bags out of my trunk. I know, scary. But we got the job done and the boys moved into a new room, nestled into their bug-free beds and went to sleep.

The experience was exhausting. By day three, I was slaphappy and half crazy. Mainly because you’re doing all this work and you’re not completely convinced the bugs won’t come back.

But one thing saved me—totally saved me—the country music on the radio. Okay, I’m not a huge fan of country. But every time I jumped into that damned rental car the DJ shouted “K95 all country, all the time!!”

The lyrics and story-telling sass that shouted from that dashboard were mesmerizing and hilarious and uplifting. They got in my blood. To the point where I couldn’t wait to run another errand—just to listen to the radio—my new B.F.F.  I howled and screamed and sang along, “I traded her in for a fishing boat,”  “I want you to love me like my dog loves me,”  “Tell your daddy…”  “Crazy women aren’t born like this – they’re made by crazy men,”  “And I don’t even know his last name…” John and I had a blast in that car and decided to start talking with a country twang. Guess you had to be there.

Click here to see Val’s Country Music List to get you through your own crisis (bedbug or otherwise).

And click here to see this complete post and more blog entries by Val. (valslist.com) Finally, click here for more creepy and crawly bedbug facts.