Carolyn Hax puts bedbugged mother-in-law in her place

by nobugsonme on January 15, 2010

in bed bugs, bed bugs in the media

I know you’ll find this reader letter to Carolyn Hax’s syndicated family advice column interesting.

A woman writes that her son and his new wife and baby came for Thanksgiving and slept in their guest room, and

On Friday morning, the new wife said she had bug bites. I said that twice in the past I had bites, also, and thought they were from bedbugs. We had done some Internet searching and gone to my dermatologist, and discovered bedbugs are not medically dangerous and not the result of uncleanliness. We gave her hydrocortisone and sympathized with her.  That evening, they moved into the hotel.  Our son said his wife was absolutely adamant that they get out of our home as soon as possible.  She has the reputation of being a “strong” woman, and she earns a very high income, so she is able always to get her way.

My husband and I felt embarrassed and disappointed that she reacted that way, but we are aware that a first-time, 45-year-old mother probably had mother-bear hormones at play, and we don’t blame our son too much for giving in to her demands.

[Emphasis mine.]

There’s more there, but the upshot is that the mother-in-law thinks the daughter-in-law “overreacted,” insisting on going to a hotel the second night, washing their clothes in hot water (and possibly even throwing out the suitcases).

Happily, Hax (who clearly gained more from a quick Google search about bed bugs than this letter writer did) sets the reader straight both about her obvious contempt for the daughter-in-law as well as the writer’s desperate need to fix any bed bug problems she may have in her home.

… while you’re at it, summon a little respect for the position you put this family in. Bedbugs may not be “medically dangerous,” but they’re a repulsive, blood-sucking, time-sucking nuisance. I hit the Internet, too, and bet she did the same.

Her “overreactions” populate lists of recommended precautions in the event of exposure. . . . And it’s still possible the family brought home some skeevy hitchhikers despite their precautions, which could mean costly and disruptive professional pest control.

Here’s the full article in the Washington Post.

I’m glad to see that word is getting around about bed bugs, but I’m also shocked at how clueless people who’ve heard of bed bugs and think they may have them can be.


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