Just before we left Boston, bed bug outbreaks in our neighborhood made national news. Broadcasts included helpful tips on what to look for, how to manage the spread, and alternatives to lighting all your belongings on fire and leaving town naked on a bicycle. Now that we live farther north we find there's an even bigger, more permanent problem: we've got a kid infestation. Here are five telltale signs:
1. Malfunctioning television refuses to broadcast any adult content. You find yourself ignorant to even the biggest news until you glimpse a headline as you run past the newspaper stand that happens to be positioned between the grocery store entrance and the dairy case.
2. Unexplained, illegible marks on all walls, three-feet or lower. Like termite damage, these types of markings accumulate over time. They may not compromise the integrity of your foundation, but can interfere with your desire to own anything nice, ever.
3. Disappearing furniture. You may notice your once-useful coffee table suddenly missing. One of the surest signs of acute kid infestation is finding this central piece of furniture replaced by two pairs of shoes, a pile of DVDs, and three Squinkies.
4. Car impounded, hoarding intervention. A concerned friend or relative noticed four pairs of shoes, six sippy cups, a week's worth of gummy bears, several hundred napkins, nineteen discarded Starbucks cups, and enough changes of clothes for a five-day camping trip, and called the authorities. The good news is that your stash isn't illegal and you're prepared for any natural disaster.
5. Filth Blindness. You realize only when it's time for your mother-in-law's summer visit or just as the babysitter's pulling in that your house has been overrun by herds of angry dust bunnies and heaps of petrified Cheerios. You wonder as you're hunched over the couch chiseling away half an inch of yogurt with your thumbnail, how it is you never noticed the mess before now.