It was the night before Thanksgiving; the military town population had sharply decreased while everyone trekked home. My husband was overseas, making us a family with an empty chair at the head of the table. I looked forward to an early turn-in time and hurried to tidy the living room. I was on my hands and knees to pick up the best and worst toy ever- Legos. Suddenly something in the wall started thumping like the Telltale Heart. I turned toward the chimney to try to locate the source of the thumping, flapping noise. Wings? A split second later a large, black, flying object swooped down into the fireplace and through the small scalloped opening at the top of the fireplace screen.
I was incredibly thankful that I was on my knees in the middle of the living room, because I hit the ground in a hurry. The black object flew right at hair height and proceeded to start spastic, panicked circling. I stared up at it and tried to identify any features that would indicate that it was a bird. None. This was a bat.
This experience was one where I gleaned wisdom and bravery, which I will now share with you, Readers. My mother says, “These are the kinds of things that only happen to you.” I’ve been a military wife long enough to know that is NOT true. In fact, the best advice on how to quickly kill and capture the bat came from other military wives who had experienced the same thing. Here is a little instruction for the next time you think you have Thanksgiving (or any other holiday) totally under control.
1.Acknowledge that this is the kind of thing that only happens on a holiday weekend at night. Realize that there will be no professional and possibly no man around to help you. Run through the list of males that live nearby and realize all are out of town or live at least 30 minutes away.
2. Freak out. Go ahead, it’s good for you. It gets the adrenaline pumping and you may get great advice out of the situation. It’s better to get things under control right away rather than have a crazy flare up. Keep your head in the head of battle.
3. Seek help. In my case, I quickly had a bat capturing expert advising me to ditch the proverbial broom tactic.
4. Start worst case scenario prevention. Can the bat access the children or animals? Put them in a safe place. Does it have rabies? Maybe. Act accordingly.
5. Cover your rear by covering your head. No matter how composed or hard-core a girl may be, when there is something in her hair, all bets are off. Get your protective gear and capturing gear, locate the bat, and conquer the beast.
6. Quote Scripture. I don’t mean the “deliver me from evil” passage. I mean something like God’s command to take dominion over the animals and all things that crawl on the earth. There are lots of great movies when someone racks the cool points by quoting scripture before exacting justice or killing an enemy. Case in point: Private Jackson quoting Psalm 25 in Saving Private Ryan.
Here’s how it played out. I wish I could say I channeled some awesome heroine or hummed some theme song, but the truth was I just wanted the bat out of the house so that my sons would be safe and could get some sleep so Thanksgiving wouldn’t be spent in the ER. The bat was now flying all over the house and I was able to regain some composure. The boys were both in bed behind shut doors. I had a house full of useful objects for capturing this intruder. I dashed to retrieve my weapons: a small trash can, a cookie sheet, an anorak with a hood to protect my hair (see #5), and an oven mitt in case to protect my hands in case of rabies. There were documented cases in this area earlier this year.
Unfortunately, the bat had stopped moving and I couldn’t find the creature. I ran around the house frantically flipping on lights so that I could identify the small creature. A thorough search of all open areas yielded nothing.
I made an SOS call to my bat-capturing expert and had her walk through capture techniques with me. I returned upstairs to turn off the bathroom light and suddenly the bat took flight, scaring me to death. I was so thrilled to see it…and yet immediately wanted to never see it again. I hung up the phone- these are moments we do alone. I shut the door, retrieved my weapons, and went in.
Now, I am sure many of you are picturing me with a hippo floatie around my waist, rain boots, a football helmet, and goggles. Go for it—it’s much funnier.
Once again, I couldn’t find the bat. The upstairs bathroom is small; this bat and I were within 4 feet of each other. I hit the shower curtains, looked behind the door… and then a black speck was poking out from under the rug. It was proof that God answers prayer. I didn’t have to hit the thing!
Again, if you want to picture me flailing a cookie sheet around at the thing, go for it. It’s funnier.
In reality, I very quickly turned the blue trash can upside down, covered it, and reached for a thin towel that was on the rack nearby. At this point I had to decide on death or capture. For a brief moment my inner self said, “Kill it! Kill it!
Trying to crush it was the only answer if I were to kill it, requiring me to cover it with a thin cookie sheet and then cover it with my body weight, hoping it didn’t fly out. Then I’d have to hit it, knock it out, and risk being bitten or handling it. Again, RABIES. It was safer and faster to capture. They also eat bugs, namely mosquitoes. I’m a killer of bugs, spiders, roaches… but not furry little bats. I didn’t want to uncover the bat that was now ready for escape just to say I killed it.
I looked down at the bat and yes, really said, “I’ve got you covered.”
Then the bat and I did a little two-step. I put the towel down, shimmied the can over it an inch, waited for the bat to scoot over, and repeated. It tried to push out and got a wing out and started making a high pitched squeak, leading to a little moment of HOLY CRAP BAT…MAN! Still, I covered it and started over. One quick move to turn the can right-side-up with the towel secure… cover with a cookie sheet… take a selfie to prove that this really happened…
And rush downstairs to the front porch.
With that, I took a picture of my conquest and released it into the wild. So there you have it. Rather than an early evening with pumpkin pie chilling in the fridge and a good book in bed, I sat up for another two hours unable to quell the adrenaline rush. The dishes did get done, however.
Mothering two boys has made me much more brave, out of necessity. Moms are superheroes. This Thanksgiving, I was BatMom.
It is now approaching Thanksgiving 2014. William and I spent the majority of November living in the pediatric oncology wing. During the first week in November we moved to a new room, which had something waiting for us in the window.
Holiday memories are important. Happy Thanksgiving, Y’all!