I was in the shower when the Little Man let out a shriek that would raise the dead. He had been sitting on our bed, watching Power Rangers Megaforce when a bug that had been crawling along the wall landed on his knee.
Little man, meet Halyomorpha halys; brown marmorated stink bug, meet the Little Man.
After he calmed down (his jets had launched him well beyond the orbit of the moon), he asked what it was. “A stink bug,” I told him. You’d think a five year old would instantly fall in love with anything that had the word “stink” in it. Perhaps I should have called it a fart bug.
It was really a minor thing, except the Little Man now worried that Mr. Halys might somehow find his way into his room, and worse yet, into his bed. Kelly tried to assuage this by giving the bug an exciting ride down the toilet. This seemed fine for a little while. Then, after the Little Man used the facilities, he said, “Daddy, we have to make sure to close all of the toilets in the house to make sure that the bug doesn’t come up.” We made sure all of the toilet lids were closed. Stephen King, eat your heart out.
Once in bed, the worry crept in that this bug would somehow come back, and bring its legions with it.
“I’ve got it covered,” I told the Little Man, “Zekie (our cat) will patrol up here tonight.”
“What will he do?”
“Well, if he see the bug, he’ll eat it.”
“He’ll eat it?” the Little Man said, shocked.
“What’s your favorite food in the whole world?” I asked him.
“Candy.” Of course.
“Well, for cats, stink bugs are like candy.”
“Not uh,” he said.
“What happens when you eat too much candy?” I asked.
“You get a tummy ache.”
“And don’t we come home sometimes to find that Zekie has been sick on the floor?”
“Well, what you do think made him sick?”
That seemed to make him feel better. I tucked him in, gave him kiss, turned off the light. His brow furrowed, “But Daddy, how will Zekie see the bug in the dark?”
Stop obsessing over the bug, I wanted to say, you’ll give yourself nightmares for no reason. “Well, Zeke is cat, and cats are nocturnal. Do you know what nocturnal means?”
He nodded, “It means that they don’t sleep at night, and can see in the dark.”
“There you go.”
He considered this logic for a long time, and then seemed satisfied. “Okay, Daddy,” he said, “just make sure you bring Zeke upstairs right now, okay?”
“Okay,” I said.
The Little Man slept soundly through the night.
His father, on the other hand, had dreams of stink bugs swarming his bed, crawling all over him, and getting in between the keys of his keyboard, making it particularly difficult to write.