As someone who is known for loving all things nature, I have a couple of basic rules that I follow. First, there is the leg rule: I don’t enjoy critters that have less than two legs and more than eight. This simple standard allows me to be open to most animals on Earth and keeps me from handling snakes and millipedes.
My second rules applies to where these animals are found. As much as I love to find living things outside in their natural habitat, I simply do not like to share my home with them. If I stumble on a deer bedded down, I don’t stomp around and play music and eat tacos there. I respect its space and hope that it respects mine.
Keeping those rules in mind, or at least the second one, I just recently took my daughters and a friend to a family cabin to celebrate a birthday. Girls only! We’ll do all of our favorite things! All by ourselves! In the woods! It’ll be great! We made plans and spoke in as many exclamation points because we were just that excited.
The entire 24-hour adventure was planned. We would play games, paint pictures, cook dinner, watch movies, and I would sleep soundly knowing that my kid and her friend had a great time and made memories to last a lifetime. You only turn 14 once, you know.
All was going as it should be, and while we dined on a meal cooked by the girls themselves, I saw something fly around the cabin and back into the bedrooms. It was in this split second of mothering genius that I informed three giddy girls that there was a “bird” in the house.
“Bird in the cabin!” I yelled, and we all ran out the door onto the porch while I quickly calculated what to do next. Because I had a pretty good suspicion it wasn’t a bird at all, and instead everyone’s favorite nocturnal flying mammal. A bat. And if I would have told them it was a bat, they would have gone bonkers and I would have been dealing with three non-sleeping girls in a panic all night long.
My father lives nearby and I called him. “Dad? I need you. There is a, um, a “bird” in the cabin and I need help, um, removing it. Bring a net.” He came speeding up the drive and as he looked at my smirking face he said, “Not a bird, is it.”
With a few flicks of a net and only a couple of shrieks from me, the bat was released and the world was righted once again, except there was no way I would tell the girls until morning.
Over breakfast, they kept going on and on about how strange it was that a sparrow was in the house until I broke the news. “Since we all survived, I can tell you now that it was a bat and not a bird.” Screams and wild dances flourished. And an unforgettable fourteenth birthday was complete.
Originally written 8.15.15