of uh-oh and a battle to the death



I was trepidatious when I opened my eyes early yesterday morning to see Alex, already in a collared shirt, grabbing his backpack. On the days he teaches at seminary, he’s gone by six. Though it’s only his second week teaching it is already a struggle between “Have a great day, darling” and “Uh-oh,” in terms of my morning greeting. In faith, I opted for “Have a great day, darling.” (And followed it up with “uh-oh” after the door shut.)

After preparing to do this for a decade, there is a tremendous joy in beginning and things in Alex’s classroom seem to be off to a great start. For which we thank God. But my own experiences on the teaching days have been . . . hair-raising. (Better terms eluding me, I looked that up in the thesaurus. It suggests ‘shuddersome’. Yes.)

His first morning teaching I was so nervous I decided to clean out the car. I thought our van was dirty in ‘Merica! You should have seen our car eight days ago. It was full of sand and sweat and dirty streaks on the upholstery from countless children clambering in and out all summer. All of our children are packrats, collecting bits of rubbish and random samples of tropical plant matter for later study that never actually happens. The car is the receptacle for most of these non-rare specimens, since the day I outlawed under-their-pillows as an alternate location. (No doubt further solidifying my credentials as a Mean Mom.) So the car needed the love and hard work is my best panacea for anxiety. I backed it into the courtyard, filled a bucket of sudsy water, and gave Hugh and Wally the job of washing the outside. I geared up and headed for the interior. At the same time, in a city two hours away, Alex was beginning to teach.

I scrubbed all the upholstery, cleaned the windows, washed the mats in the sun, and swept out the sand. All went well until I removed Wally’s chair and tipped his seat up to clean underneath.

When I spotted one.

There was a cockroach the size of a quarter hanging out under there. Believe it or not, in Indonesia this counts as a little one. Nay, an infant. I’ve lived here for a year now. (Also I’m an adult.) I wasn’t going to freak out. I kept an admirable calm while I backed slowly away and went for the chemical bug-killing spray can. You would have thought I was strolling through Target with a Starbucks coffee in one hand. I leveled that baby at the roach and let loose.

And cockroaches by the hundreds came pouring out of the interior of the seat. They spilled down the upholstery, ran in all directions in the interior of the car, spilled out the door, and rushed over the ground. Two ran over my feet and one ran up my leg. There were babies, adults, and granddaddies: ranging from pea-sized hoppers to bigger brown quarter-sized runners. God be praised, there weren’t any of those titanic four-inchers like the one that came running out of my face cloth early yesterday morning.

I have no idea what sound came out of my mouth but I can promise you it was both disturbing and impressive.

I would love to describe the next few minutes to those interested but I am afraid a more precise record of those events will be forever lost to the world. (Unless my helper was watching from the house, which I sincerely hope she was as her job is, at times, too boring.) All I know is that I went beserk with the spray can and the broom. The fumes got so thick my tongue went numb and at one stage I sacrificed my left foot in order to whack to death the cockroach that was on it.

After I finally finished sweeping everything out I sprayed, waited ten minutes, went back and swept out the dead, sprayed again, etc. for an hour. When I finished our car was gleamingly clean, there was no sign of life, and the courtyard was littered with enemy carcasses. I looked at the clock. Alex was wrapping up his first lecture. (How did it go, darling.)

I forgot to tell you, as I backed away for the spray can in the beginning, I startled a seven-inch brown snake lizard, who had apparently been sunning himself behind the car. In his haste to flee the scene he actually touched my foot. I was so focused on slaughter that this event, ordinarily momentous, did not impair my calm.

You ‘ve heard of the classic “fight-or-flight” response to threat? For many months in Indonesia my automatic impulses were all “flight”. Apparently that stage is over. I’m all fight at the minute and the score last Thursday was firmly Me: 1, Enemy 0. So praise God for that.

I need to, because yesterday was another teaching day and I backed into a guy’s motorcycle with the car.

This entry was posted in Indonesia, Keep Calm and Carry On. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to of uh-oh and a battle to the death

  1. Susan says:

    I have no words. But I’m feeling all the feels for you, mighty woman of valor.

  2. Cara says:

    Oh Betsy! I laughed and nodded my head. Hilarious and hideous. I can totally see you doing the cockroach dance in your yard. Where were your kids during all this?

    I have had many such experiences. We once had a little booster seat for our kids to sit at the table with us. It was a cockroach hotel, as they feasted on all the food the babies dropped in the chair. We couldn’t take the chair apart, and it was hollow inside, with little slits for the straps. But the cockroaches would come out at meal time and sit with the baby, eating up all the crumbs. One day we submersed the whole chair in water and thousands upon thousands of cockroaches came out. Then we gave the chair to our neighbor.

    We also had a dining table with a strip of tiles nestled down the center for hot dishes. Well, this was also a perfect place for cockroaches to hide, and then come out at meal time and climb onto our plates and help themselves.

    Needless to say, I now restrict my kids eating to a small, 3 foot by 3 foot fenced-in section in our backyard.

  3. DougL says:

    Fun – if disgusting- read! A new- and impressive- level of heroism! We’ll be praying about your theatre of battle, as Alex is tearing down strongholds at school. Cheers!

  4. Peggy Buckley says:

    Heaven’s to Betsy!!! How I love you and am laughing (with?!) and praying for you!! Are there any cock roaches in Alex’s class room? 😄 Grace & Peace To you, my friend. And plenty of killer spray on hand too!

    Keep writing!




    • betsy says:

      There are probably no cockroaches in Alex’s class because he wouldn’t even care if there were! LOL. You aren’t kidding about the killer spray–but i need the grace and peace more. Love ya!

  5. Dana D says:

    Oh Betsy,
    I can relate a little. At our old house, earwigs would hide in our patio chairs. They would just pour out of the crevices of the chairs. They were the invaders and I had to eliminate them. It was war. So gross. Maybe not as gross as roaches where your children sit. But think of it this way. How kind of God to give you such a great distraction, just when you needed it.
    Praying for your family.

  6. Mary Brown says:

    This made my morning. Thanks for sharing. Living in fl I worked painting houses with my dad, one house we went into everytime you moved something or opened a light switch plate roaches would scurry. I also remember using he bathroom and pulling on the roll of toilet paper just to have a two inch palmetto bug appear from the back of the roll. Hard to know what to do in that situation.

  7. Laurie says:

    B..B..B…BESTY!!!!!!??? (You definitely forgot to tell me about cockroaches……)

    One time I decided it was time to do battle with all of the spiders in my basement (which was also where I did my laundry)… I unloaded and ENTIRE can of bug spray on one particularly large specimen that flew out of the dryer as I was folding clothes. I can’t claim calmness, but I can claim resolve. That thing lay soaked and motionless on top of the pile of little boy jeans waiting to go into the washer. And that’s when I got brave and decided to get a closer look…. I shouldn’t have, as I would still be living with the delusion of valor and courage even in the face of almost paralyzing fear…. if it weren’t a plastic spider one of my boys had strategically placed on that pile… Oh the shame….

    Anything else you’d like to add??

  8. Jenna says:

    I never thought I would be thanking the Lord for my “slight” cockroach problem but now I am! Bless you my dear. You truly are awesome, the fearlessness of a mamma bear defending her cubs 😆
    If only you had it on video…

    Love all your stories. Xo😘

  9. Erin Reynen says:

    How did I miss this post?! It was a little bright spot of hilarity in my day. I can just see it all (and it makes my battles with the giant 3 inch ones in our place seem puny).

    All I have left to say is – well done. Well. Done. 🙂

  10. Lydia says:

    Yikes! Yikes! The Lord is giving you grace to be a brave woman, Betsy!

  11. Emily Walker says:

    I just found your blog. And this is a horrific experience that I hope never gets repeated!!

  12. Pingback: of my knight and mighty deeds | part of the main

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s