When we decided to move to Australia we were told many horror stories about the many deadly animals and creepy crawlies. I think people enjoy frightening foreigners about it. Twenty-three million people call Australia home and they have all been doing just fine so I thought I will take my chances.
Many of the videos and stories that we’ve seen and read are about getting bitten from a spider (huntsman I think) that likes to hang out under the toilet seat. I’ve been told over and over again to check before sitting down. So I prepped the kids about it before ever touching down, emphasizing that this must become a new habit for us. I thought if I drill it into them ahead of time it will be second nature and surely it will spare us all the unpleasantness.
One month later and we are militant about it—everyone checks. Someone will close the loo door and then immediately you hear the seat go up and down like clockwork. I feel like a fool. I feel like it’s the greatest Aussie prank of all time…getting the ex-pats to live this way. Everyone is having one big laugh at our expense. I will continue to do it anyway though for fear of the one time that I don’t look.
Before moving into our temporary home we stayed at a bug filled Airbnb house. We would all tip toe in at night when returning home to look for spiders and cockroaches as they would scurry when we would flip the lights on. Some evenings there were so many we didn’t know which to remove first. There would be high pitched screaming from the kids, and probably myself, as we grabbed shoes and paper towels to smash them with. Yucky business – the clean-up of large, gut-smashed cockroach corpses. The whole place just made my skin crawl.
Upon our return one evening we didn’t see anything, however, the tension was thick as everyone walked in silently, with focused eyes to survey the area. I screamed anyway to have a laugh and the kids all must have jumped a foot into the air. It was hilarious.
After that evening it occurred to me that we are all very tense from the stories that we’ve been told. If we hadn’t heard them would we have just been grossed out about the house that had an insect “issue” rather than ongoing paranoia? Nothing really prepares you for living with lots of critters when you haven’t before. Experience, as always, is the best way. Here’s hoping that we let go of all the tales that we were told and that we replace them with educated knowledge…with hopefully no bites and no majorly stressful encounters.
You’re tempting fate with this post. Just wait until you see one of those things in person! -Stephen