Do You Really Know What’s In Your Child’s Backpack?

From the Sh*t That Only Happens to Me file.

Disclaimer: A lot of ants were hurt and/or maimed in the making of this blog post, and I don’t really care.

I’ve been so busy with all this back-to-school crap, all the driving and choreography and hunting down of extracurricular gear like dance shoes and health forms and people’s gym socks – so I went to the salon to get a pedicure. I was determined to relax.

I don’t relax much. What I like about getting pedicures is that I am forced to sit still for about an hour – which means I can actually read a book, and relax.

I couldn’t find my purse, so I tossed the book that I’m reviewing for Blogher, Lunch Wars: How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children’s Health, into Ella’s pink backpack and went to the salon. I had just plonked my arse in the automatic massage seat (I call it the Surrogate Husband Chair, for obvious reasons) and put my feet into the tub of water, when I saw an ant crawling across my forearm.

I flicked it off.

Then I saw another ant. This one was marching across my chest. I flicked it off, hoping nobody saw, and looked over at Ella’s Suspicious Pink Backpack. Ants were streaming out of it and onto the empty Surrogate Husband Chair beside me, singing!

“The ants go marching two-by-two, hurrah! Hurrah!”

I suddenly remembered that Ella had been playing Botanist-meets-Veterinarian-meets-Farmer-meets-Archaeologist in the garden or whatever it is she plays out there, and had asked for a bag to carry “some nature.” I was reading my book and – okay, I admit it – I wasn’t paying attention. When she asked if she could put “them” in her backpack I probably waved my hand at her or something and nodded. That must’ve been when she secreted the ant hill or whatever Mother Nature thing it was into the backpack, when I wasn’t looking. So really – I deserved what happened to me in that salon.

The ants came marching, and all told, I counted about 30 of them. I’m pretty sure there were a lot more.

I was no longer relaxing, not by any stretch of the imagination. I needed to move the backpack off the Surrogate Husband Chair before someone saw the ants and realized that I had brought them in. I quietly put the backpack on the floor. But then all I could do was watch helplessly as they made their way up the ankles of the nice people who worked there, and headed over to embed themselves into someone’s freshly painted pedicure.

I did not get any reading done, Blogher, because I spent the whole time counting ants as they crawled out of Ella’s backpack, and (sorry PETA!) squashing them with my paper slipper.


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  1. Ella’s backpack = the new ant farm ? I can’t even get started about what my kids’ packs (and lockers!) looked like by the end of the year… but I never ever found ants, a first! :D
    Twitter: wordsxo

    • I love what you wrote about your kids lockers. My middle son is a freshman in high school this year and I did not purchase him a hall locker because in middle school he frequently “forgot” to turn in homework he had done and where do you think it was??? Yup, in his locker. I went to his middle school at least 4 times last year just so I could go through his locker and find his stuff. It was a great deterrent though, “If you don’t find those papers and turn them in I will drive you to school and walk you to your locker to find them”. Horrifying thought for an 8th grader. Somehow the papers would mysteriously be found and turned in….. This year, no locker= homework turned in. ;-)
      Twitter: swimbeauswim

      • My locker was always a stye in high school – and a health hazard, everything fell out and knocked people on the head, whoever was underneath. (-:
        Twitter: Adothemomalog

  2. Are you kidding me! I cannot believe that happened to you. Sorry it happened to you but it’s pretty funny stuff! Thanks for stopping over today. My dog Skye is a Cairn Terrier like Toto from The Wizard of Oz.
    We love her so much. Very nice to meet you.
    Twitter: foryourtears

  3. Oh Lord. I literally tensed up on your behalf reading this story. I take it the nice people who worked there didn’t chastise you; did anyone figure out the ants were from your pink backpack of doom??

    I am embarrassed every single morning at school drop off time when the teachers open my car door to let my daughter out and see the absolute dump that is my car, so I can relate.

    • Kimberly, I always spilled yogurt in my book bag at school so all thru the year my books had yogurt on them and smelled of strawberry, and my backpack…was foul!
      Twitter: Adothemomalog

    • It was the opposite of relaxation that’s for sure. I left (ran) outta that place more stressed out than when I got there.
      Twitter: Adothemomalog

  4. OMG I LOVE this story! I can’t even begin to tell you the things that I have found in my kids’ backpacks – most of them unintentional biology experiments that smell REALLY bad and look worse! My worst ant story, though, was one time I brought in the empty hummingbird feeder to refill it. I unscrewed the bottom part so I could rinse it out and an army of huge ants came swarming out, all over my hands, into my sink, across my kitchen counters – just everywhere! Not only was it totally gross (and I will confess to some serious anticide – sorry again PETA) but it was such a shock. I never expected that in a million years. The moral of the story, in case you were wondering, is, now the hummingbird feeder is my husband’s job :)
    Twitter: SusannaLHill

  5. Please tell me you can go back soon for a redo so you can truly relax :) Ugh, I hate that tickly yuck feeling of having little bugs on me, like ants or tics, because even once they are gone it still feels like they are there. I love that your daughter collected ants! Maybe she saw an ant farm recently :)

  6. Ewww, I hate when that sort of thing happens! Our kids are older and not the “back pack” generation…but it’s amazing the things kids keep!
    Twitter: AnnHolly

  7. This is awesome…I just found you on Twitter – as I am trying to find fellow SAHMs to bond with. I was elated to find out that our new “green school” nixed backpacks this year! I STILL haven’t cleaned out the backpacks from last… please Lord, don’t let there be any new organisms growing in them.
    Also – pretty pumped that I’m not the only person HUMILIATED by my trash can on wheels… 3 boys + a toddler just isn’t going to end well in a car – even for just 5 minutes!
    Twitter: RheneeBerger

  8. Ants…I literally hate ants, but there are some worse cases with the children’s backpack. I have to check my 7yrs old son’s backpack everyday, since he has forgot about some bananas which he left in his bag for a week. The whole house had got a wrong banana aroma, when I recognized that the source of the terrible aroma is his backpack:)