Friday, November 9, 2007

I am (like) Jesus- a roach tale

For reasons I have trouble comprehending, the science teachers at my school have decided to raise and keep as pets, Madagascar hissing cockroaches. They do a whole unit about them, I don't know, make kids pick them up. There are pictures proudly hung of pretty teenage girls with roaches on their faces- you get the point.
So, in this classroom I was put in, there were a bunch of empty roach containers- clear plastic boxes with some cedar bedding, a small plastic vessel to hold a sponge that gets soaked with water, vaseline at the top inch of the container (to hinder escape) and a cover.
There must have been 10 containers with the bedding, sponges, etc sitting taking up counter space. I decided to clean out the containers and put them away. I stayed late one day with a student and I dumped out the bedding into a big garbage box. One after another, I uncerimoniously dumped the contents and fit one container into another.
And then, it happened. I dumped the container and I saw something. A big something. It was a roach. And then I saw something else. It moved. Just slightly, barely a disgusting arm wiggle, but a movement nonetheless. I screamed, my student screamed.
Filled with cooties, I had a little freak-out session and then felt terribly guilty at the thought of throwing away a living thing, roach notwithstanding. So, ruler in hand, I scooped the brown shiney life from the pile of cedar bedding and put it in to a plastic container. I threw in a sponge piece for good measure. Now though I have no interest in these "pets", I have seen the other science teacher take care of her lovelies. She puts water on the sponge and gives them apples. Following suit, I poured water into the container, not particularly caring whether it got on the sponge, but feeling I had successfully fulfilled that part of my guilt-laden conscience. Then I threw about a half a banana in there too and wished the thing well, knowing I could sleep at night.
And then something pretty amazing happened. This dorsal-oriented animal (yes, they're an animal) rose from the almost-dead. I watched it react to the presence of water. It watched it slowly, but with increasing determination, right itself and wiggle out from under the bedding. It made a bee-, er, roach-line for the sponge, summited it, and began to drink. Long, life-giving drinks. Satisfied, it moved on to the banana. Sitting atop the fleshy obelisk, the roach ate. And ate. And ate. I watched it for a good 15 minutes, and the roach's hunger seemed never to cease.
I ran next door to another teacher (Language Arts) who also keeps these as pets (she's obviously crazy too), and asked her to come see. I told her what happened. We quickly came to the conclusion that this roach hadn't eaten since probably APRIL. Nearly 6 months without food or water! No wonder they'll survive a nuclear explosion!!
Stephanie asked me if I noticed whether the roach had bumps on its head. I was like, OH HELL NO you don't think I was staring at this thing THAT close!
Anyway, turns out the roach is a female and really hadn't eaten in at least 6 months. Stephanie took her home to be with the others and it's living happily ever after.
It was almost charming. For a roach.

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