In August, Kristin and I went to Oak Lake for a week with our kids. Luisa and Brian stayed in Minneapolis so we were like a temporary lady/lady Brady Bunch with our four kids. When we arrived, the cabin was unbearably hot. We were able to cool off in the lake during the day but, when it came time to sleep, we were desperate to find a way to escape the heat and humidity. Kristin and I decided to sleep in the basement with the two younger kids because it was markedly cooler down there but Augie and Miguel wanted to sleep together upstairs so they could stay up late and talk. The little kids fell asleep and Kristin and I had just turned out the lights when Miguel and Augie came downstairs and said calmly, "There is a bat in our room." Kristin and I were not quite as calm and cycled through the five stages of grief in the blink of an eye: Denial - "No, it can't be a bat. It's probably a sweet little bird." Anger - "WHY? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?" Bargaining - "Maybe it will just leave. That could happen, right?" Depression - "The first day of vacation and we have to deal with this. Sigh." Acceptance - "Well, we have no choice. We will capture the bat! We can do this! Hooya!"
So, we assembled our bat catching gear. Kristin put on a floppy hat and grabbed a bucket. I draped a blanket over my head and grabbed a fly swatter. We told the boys to stay in the basement and we clutched each other and crept slowly up the stairs. I do not like darkness when I'm trying to find a potentially rabid flying rodent and it was horror film dark. We listened - silence, no ominous fluttering. So, we stepped bravely into the living room and then flutter-swoop-flutter! We screamed. Kristin ran to the far door and opened it. I ran to the sliding glass door and opened it. Our plan was to somehow cajole/urge/usher/will the bat out an open door but we stood there helplessly and watched it enjoy the expanse of the cabin's vaulted ceilings. At one point, it flew towards Kristin and there was a glimmer of hope but it quickly flew back into the loft. Then, it flew directly at me and I dropped to the floor in a pile with my blanket covering me. From beneath my blanket, I yelled, "We need a better plan. It's never gonna fly out." We were also concerned that leaving the doors open might seem like an invitation for a few additional bats to join the fun. So, we shut the doors and waited for an idea. Then, by some miracle, the bat flew into one of the bedrooms and was making circles in there. It sounded like Miguel and Augie were downstairs having a kegger so we yelled down to them and told them to come upstairs so they wouldn't wake the little kids. Augie quickly darted to the couch and covered himself with a blanket. Miguel just stood there in his boxer shorts. We needed to shut the bedroom door to trap the bat but I couldn't bear to walk into the room to grab the doorknob and pull it closed. Kristin was also not interested. So, I said, "Miguel honey, the bat is in the little bedroom. I need you to go in there and shut the door." I said it in the voice the Grinch uses when he talks to Cindy Lou Who. He shrugged and went into the room, grabbed the knob and shut the door. We then stuffed a towel under the door so the bat couldn't get out. Then, the plan came to me in a vision...a vision that did not involve bites and rabies and shots. Unfortunately, my plan required three people. One person would hold a blanket to keep the bat from flying into the main part of the cabin, one person would hold open the front door to let it escape and one person would stand in the hallway and open the door and usher it outside. I assigned Miguel to the door. Kristin took the hall and I stood on a chair to hold up the blanket. We took our places and then Kristin opened the door. She couldn't see it; it wasn't circling. Much whispering and uncertainty ensued. Then, she screamed which signaled that the bat had returned to its flight pattern. She had a towel and was trying to swish it out and then, suddenly, she was screaming, "IT'S OUT! IT'S OUT!" She dropped down and the bat flew at the blanket and was hitting it right near where my hands were. I'm pretty sure I was yelling, "OH MY GOD!" repeatedly. It then flew towards the door and Miguel let the door shut. Kristin yelled for him to open it. He opened it and then I heard him start screaming and crying. Kristin then started yelling, "IT'S GONE!" I dropped the blanket, Kristin got Miguel inside and the door was shut. He was hysterical. He couldn't stop sobbing and asking why we made him do that. Through tears, he explained that he had used the door as a shield as I had told him to do but, when the bat flew out, it flew behind the door to where he was standing. He sniffled and said, "Mom. I was just standing there almost naked in my boxer shorts." I felt horrible. He had been our little sacrificial lamb. Kristin and I told him that there is no way we could have done it without him and Kristin rewarded him with an enormous bowl of ice cream. Augie patted him on the back and said, "I'll get the next one." Had there been a "next one", we would have held him to that. We might have felt bad about traumatizing Miguel but you can get over trauma. Rabies is forever.