Patrick Slack staff headshot

Patrick Slack

“Mom. Dad. The ants. They’re everywhere. What do I do?”

I tried not to think about what the reaction was by my parents on the receiving end of this message back home last week. Their golden, well, funniest child and his gaps in knowledge.

Amusement? Horror? Lack of surprise? Relief they have three older competent children? I wondered where this ranked compared to my previous new homeowner question of, “So … um … the pilot light … is that important?”

Such thoughts would have to wait though. For now, I was on my own.

Unsure what to do, I grabbed a fly swatter and a roll of paper towels, got the children to the living room, then braced myself. A wiser, more rational person would have probably looked up a better solution, but I am not that wise rational person. At least when it comes to insects.

One time last year we were at my parents’ place when one of my children asked if he could borrow a few toy baseball players. The other, not wanting to be left out, asked if he could borrow something too. My mom gave him a bucket full of plastic insects. I don’t know what childhood wrongdoing of mine she was seeking retribution for, but it must have been bad.

We went home and my kids started playing with the toy insects and asking me questions about them to look up. They thought it was neat information. I took it as an opportunity to identify each insect’s individual strengths and weaknesses.

Evidently, though, I forgot about the common ant. Make that the uncommon ant. Bringing me back to my pressing dilemma.

These ants were serious. And big. I thought it was a good idea to live in a house with some nature in the yard, but now I’m having second thoughts.

I swatted. I missed … a lot. Finally, I was able to take care of the situation, calm down and get online to figure out a longer term solution: cinnamon.

Apparently cinnamon is to ants what green vegetables are to my kids: to be avoided at all costs.

I sprinted to our spice drawer and frantically searched for the cinnamon. I didn’t take the time to read to the point where it said how much to put out, I just started pouring everywhere. Floors, countertops, trash cans. Then I went outside and put a layer of cinnamon around the outside of the house, wondering if any of my neighbors were wondering just what I was doing. If I wasn’t already before, pretty sure I’m now That Neighbor.

A few hours later my wife got home from work, saw the cinnamon on the floor and calmly asked, “Ants?”

Cinnamon. Ants. Who knew?

Apparently my wife, and quite a few people on the internet. And it turned out my parents, of course, once they got back to me.

It’s been a whirlwind time of learning and finding out there’s always more to learn. Some things that are funny, others that are a lot more serious. Always better late than never.

And now, if ants ever come back, I’ll be ready with cinnamon in hand.

Just don’t ask me how to fix a pilot light.

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