I created a disaster in my art room today with my 3rd graders.
I had them working on cutting and collaging recycled paper. I have a giant box full of old paper. Some of it is pieces of colorful construction paper that was barely used, some of it is old paintings that were going to be discarded. The box is full to bursting and we use it often so there are also a lot of smaller pieces of paper in addition to the larger pieces.
During the last class of the day, one of my students started freaking out because he said saw a cockroach in the box. I started freaking out too. And of course, the whole class started freaking out.
I am completely and irrationally afraid of roaches even though I live in Texas and they have always been a sad fact of my life. My most memorable bad roach experience was from when I was living in an apartment in Houston. It was my sophomore year of college. As I was laying in bed a cockroach crawled across the ceiling and disappeared into my closet. I pretended it didn’t happen.
A few days later I was sitting in a bathrobe with conditioner in my hair at my computer. The cockroach flew in front of me. Not just in front of me, I felt it clip my face as it flew past. I screamed and left the house with conditioner in my hair, wearing nothing but a bathrobe, and I stayed at my moms house all day until my roommate was able to go home and say he couldn’t find anything. When I finally came home the roach re-emerged as if it had been waiting for me. My roommate quickly smooshed it with a shoe and then I sprayed it for a good 30 seconds until we were completely sure it was dead.
Anyway, I had every reason to believe that this 3rd grader had in fact seen a cockroach. When I first got my classroom I had a disgusting situation. The room was kind of like the bottom of a birdcage. Also, the previous teacher had left open tempera paint cakes UNDERNEATH THE SINK in the dark, dank, and moist cabinets. Of course, the roaches had been eating it.
I know this because I found blue poop everywhere. Also, when my husband, Alex, came to help me finish setting up furniture, he stomped on a live roach and the inside of it was green.
So when this kid told me that he saw a roach in the box of paper I freaked out. In my mind, the only logical thing to do was dump the paper on the floor and kill the roach.
The kids told me this was the most fun day they’d ever had and it was like having a free day. But it was a total disaster. After they had jumped around in the paper like it was a pile of fall leaves, everyone helped clean up. For some reason my art room is carpeted so it was pretty impossible to sweep up the leftovers but I got as much of it as I reasonably could. I apologized profusely to our custodians and they assured me that its fine and that they like how clean I always leave the room at the end of the day.
I don’t actually think there was a roach after all.