Thursday, July 28, 2011


We lived in the Peruvian jungle when I was little, where houses were built with screen windows and tin roofs. In one of the houses we lived in for a while, my bedroom was in the attic, and it was not an uncommon thing to be awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of wings fluttering in the darkness as a bat flew around my room. It was more irritating than frightening, and the remedy was simple. I just laid still in my bed and shouted:

"Daaaaaaddyyyyyy, there's a bat in my room!"

Soon, the light would come on, and up the stairs would come my daddy, armed with a tennis racket. I would pull the sheet over my head, and Dad and his tennis racket took care of the bat. (I watched him chase bats the first few times it happened, but when one landed on my bed after meeting the racket, I quit watching and just waited under the sheet from then on.)

Yesterday afternoon, Isaak was absolutely convinced that there was a bird in our house. We looked everywhere, and when we didn't find a bird, or any evidence of one, I convinced him that because of the way the light was shining through the window, every time a bird flew by outside, the shadow went across the wall inside. And then a bird flew by and showed him what I meant. So he agreed that that was probably what he saw, I told them the story of Grandpa Bill chasing bats in my bedroom, and we went on with our day.

And then, when I went upstairs to go to bed, I heard a little scratching noise from up high by our open attic/loft. Thinking that maybe Isaak really HAD seen a bird, I turned on the light, and then stood and watched a bat crawl around on the wall by the ceiling.

Of course I did what any sensible, grown-up girl would do.

I called my Daddy.

"Daaaaaddyyyyy! There's a bat in my room!"

And like any sensible Daddy who is two hours away (and not currently feeling up to doing any bat-chasing anyway), he asked me if I had a tennis racket.

I have a racket. I also have a large plastic container with air holes punched in the lid for catching and examining creatures we'd rather not hold (like bees, tiny lizards, and bats). Armed with both, with Jaela and Macey close behind me, I approached the bat in my bedroom. It flew toward me, and I swung the racket. It dodged. Jaela and Macey shrieked with laughter and ran out of the room to report to Anya, who was hiding quite sensibly under a blanket in the hallway. The process was repeated. And repeated. And repeated. Until I accidentally dropped the racket.

At which point I just threw the container at the bat. The bat dodged, and Jaela and Macey laughed even harder. The bat flew up into the loft, and refused to come back down. So I dragged over the ladder and climbed up after it, racket first.

I couldn't find it. I looked all over the lighted part, and saw no sign of it. I was thinking about crossing over into the unlit side of the attic in search of it when I turned my head and saw it clinging to the side of the beam at the roof line.

It didn't seem fair to smash it with the racket, so I opened up the plastic container and held the lid ready. It took me a few minutes to cross those few feet between us. I didn't want to spook it, and I like to think that it was lulled into stillness by my repetitive muttering. "It's only a bat. It's only a bat. It's only a bat. When I get close it's going to fly into my face. No, it's only a bat. It's only a bat."

And then it was in the container, and the lid was on. I climbed down out of the loft and we took the bat where the light was better so we could examine it. The girls exclaimed over its little tiny teeth and claws, how its ears moved as it listened, and how funny it looked when it tried to crawl, like it was wearing a dress that was too big. And then my animal lovers decided that instead of saving it until morning to show Isaak what his "bird" really was and risk letting it suffocate, we should let it go.

So we did. Outside, of course, where it belongs.

After the girls had named it Robert.