Have I mentioned that I am a new home owner…and a single parent?
Well I am. It’s been two weeks shy of a year since I closed on and moved in to an old, beat up Victorian beauty in small town Michigan. I love it. My kids love it. It’s giant…and old….and beat up. We (my kids & I) have had some small adventures in home ownership this past year.
One such adventure occurred last weekend. I call this one Nature Invades.
It was just starting to get dark when I pulled into the drive with my daughter. She’s ten. A small skunk ran from across the driveway and went under our house…right by the steps to the side door. Ummm. We looked at each other and quickly decided we would not be using the side door that night.
So I parked the car well away from the skunk’s path and we went inside. Right away I knew something was off. All the other kids were upstairs and all the lights were on downstairs. Suddenly my daughter yells “There’s a bird in the house!”
We were quickly informed that, no, it was a bat in the house. My initial response (after closing the two doors that open to the two story entry way that leads upstairs) was “THERE’S A BAT IN THE HOUSE??!!”
I called my sister who lives ten minutes away, no answer. I called my dad, no answer. I texted a friend, no answer. I called my mom. She answered.
Again I said “THERE’S A BAT IN MY HOUSE!!!”
She said “You need a tennis racket.” Of course I don’t own a tennis racket. She then suggested a broom.
I got off the phone & Googled “How to get a bat out of the house at night”.
Frankly at this point I just wanted some one else to come get this bat out of my house. Me, who is NOT a fan of the damsel-in-distress/Disney Princess-some-day-my-prince-will-come mentality, just wanted a big strong…well anybody really, to come walking through my door and chase that scary bat out. But of course that wasn’t going to happen.
It was time for me to man up, put on my big girl pants and deal with the problem.
So with my twelve and fourteen year old sons in tow I gathered some supplies, donned a hoodie and gardening gloves, took a deep breath, and headed downstairs.
My daughter followed too. While she did not plan to help, this was one show she was not going to miss.
I had a couple strategies in mind at this point. If the bat landed and I could trap it in a blanket or bucket I would do that. Otherwise I was planning to open a door, turn off the lights, and use a flashlight to direct the bat to the open door. This was preferable as it did not involve touching the bat and I could stay farther away. Of course I couldn’t find a flashlight; luckily one of my sons suggested using the light on his radio control helicopter.
First we removed our dog and cat from the situation. Then we located the flying invader. As the bat flapped around our dining room’s high ceiling we ducked and Eeked accordingly. All I could think about was that episode of The Office where Dwight traps a bat on Merideth’s head and she gets bit.
Finally the bat landed… on the inside of a brown curtain. I stealthily crept close enough to locate the bat by touching the curtain with a broom. When I touched & it chattered I screamed and jumped back. I pulled myself together & tried again. But this time no chatter. I brushed the bottom of the curtain to make the whole thing move; no batty response.
Umm, guys, did you see the bat fly out?
That would be too simple.
At this point my twelve year old son abandoned us leaving me and the fourteen year old to handle the situation.
Cautiously I lifted the curtain and saw nothing, no bat.
I looked up. There it was, all curled up in a furry brown upside down ball, hanging right at the top of the curtain in the few inch space between the curtain rod and the top of the window.
“I think we’re going to have to trap it in something.” I said. My son replied “I’m really not comfortable with this situation.”
I got a chair and an empty ice cream bucket and lid and climbed up to see what I could do.
Standing on the chair put me eye level with the bat. This is the closest I have ever been to one of them…and the closest I ever want to be.
I held the bucket on top of the curtain just above the bat and thought I’d try using the lid to force the bat up into it. Then I could slam the lid on and run for the door. But as soon as I moved the lid toward the bat it let out a screech. My ear drums vibrated. I let out a screech and promptly jumped off the chair.
My daughter peeked out from behind the safety of a door saying “You’re like watching a horror movie.”
I informed her she was not being helpful.
Okay no trapping the bat.
On to plan B (which was actually plan A). I yelled upstairs for the three rowdy kids up there to be quiet while my son turned off the lights.
We had the back door open already but my house is like a maze. The bat was in the dining room which has two doorways (right next to eachother) that lead to a smaller room which leads to the kitchen. At the end of the kitchen is a door that goes to a little mud room, the outside door is there. We needed to get this bat to fly two ninety degree turns through three rooms with multiple doorways and out the narrow end of the kitchen to the mud room and the waiting exit.
I took the helicopter/flash light and gave my son the broom. “Okay, you just need to push gently on the top of the curtain and get the bat to move. I’ll direct it with the light. Use the broom to guide it toward the door.” I told him.
“I’m really not comfortable with this” he reiterated.
“Yeah me either. Let’s go.”
He dislodged the bat; as it flew around I pointed the light towards the side by side doorways. My son held the broom up as I yelled things like “Guide it! Move it to the door!”
It flew into the next room. And out of the next room. And around the two doorways. We managed to keep it in the next room and guide it into the kitchen. Fortunately the kitchen only has two doorways and we were blocking one. After one lap around the kitchen the bat found the mudroom door and flew out with the cat making chase. Crap! The cat (indoor, female, not fixed)!
I slammed the door anyway.
The bat was in the mudroom right by the open outside door, the one the skunk had gone under about half an hour earlier. There’s no way the bat wouldn’t find it’s way out. But no way the cat wouldn’t find her way out too.
Oh well, the bat was out and that was the important part.
I went upstairs and told the rest of the kids that we had succeeded but the cat was outside.
Instead of focusing on our victory they dwelled on the negative by loudly bemoaning their precious pet’s escape.
“We lost our cat!” “Ms. Moustache is going to DIEEE!”
My children can be a tad dramatic.
I sent the oldest two out with the helicopter/flashlight to retrieve the cat. Our dog tagged along. They found the cat, the dog herded her back to the house, and the younger kids finally got to sleep.
My oldest son and I decided we’d watch a movie together to commemorate our courage, ingenuity, and perseverance in our first wildlife invasion experience.
We chose Batman.