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Welcome to the Bat Cave

I was taken by surprise by a pair of beady eyes while getting into bed one night

I plopped into bed, let out a loud sigh, and peered at the clock radio. I had stayed up too late again—11:40 p.m. on a week night. Turning the other way, I saw only the quiet back of my sleeping wife.

It occurred to me that Beth and I hadn't gone to bed at the same time for quite a while. The house we had just moved into needed "a little work," so I was spending most evenings outside while Beth tinkered inside. The arrival of our third little boy just before the move had slowed our progress. When I came in at dark I usually found additional projects that needed to be completed. Then I'd turn to the office work I hadn't been able to finish between yawns during the day.

I really missed our pre-slumber "talk times." But I was too exhausted for talking. I only had enough energy left to switch off the light … until my eyes fell on a small black spot where the paneling over our fireplace met the ceiling. I couldn't remember seeing that knot hole before.

Just then an insect buzzed past my nose, startling me into an unpleasant memory of the yellow jackets that had just been exterminated from between the first and second floors of our new home. They had entered through a woodpecker's hole to build a nest that the exterminator estimated had contained more than 2,000 mean-spirited pests. It had taken four days of treatments to deal with the problem, and tonight's buzzing insect—thankfully just a fly—reminded me that I still needed to plug some woodpecker holes.

Well, I'd worry about that tomorrow. Then I remembered the dark spot on the wall. Was it possible some other insect horde was building a nest right in our bedroom? I rolled out of bed and pulled a flashlight from the nightstand. When I shined it up to the dark spot, I saw a strange reflection: Two beady little eyes were squinting back at me.

It was a bat. Capping the chimneys was on next week's project list, and pulling the glass fireplace doors open and shut was an occasional pastime of our young sons. At some time during the past 24 hours, our bedroom had become a new exit to the bat cave.

My friend Don and his wife had once discovered a bat in their bedroom after they left a window open. Don went after it with a broom, sending the creature into a frenzy surpassed only by that of Don's wife, who ran around the room screaming. Ten minutes after he drove the bat out of the house, a police cruiser pulled up in front. Apparently the neighbors had noticed the bedroom-window silhouette of a man swinging a broom—and the sounds of a woman screaming and Don shouting, "Get out of here, you old bat!" Someone called in a report of domestic violence, and Don spent an embarrassing few minutes explaining that his wife was not the bat in question.

But what about this bat? Just then Beth woke up and asked why I was shining a flashlight in the corner of the ceiling. When I told her, she didn't take the news very well. "What are we going to do?" she asked, as she huddled against the opposite wall.

Well, what would you do at 11:45 p.m. when you're dead tired, your kids are asleep and there's a bat hanging from your ceiling? I headed out to the garage, returning with a ladder, my fishing net, a large piece of cardboard and a ping pong paddle. I was going to try to capture the creature, but in case it got loose and started flying around the room I wanted Beth to have the ping pong paddle ready. She quickly handed the paddle back to me and said if the bat started flying around she'd be locked in the bathroom, praying for my safety.

With that encouragement, I started climbing the ladder, the fishing net in one hand and the cardboard in the other. I positioned the cardboard on the wall just below the bat's head, ready to slide the cardboard underneath the creature after clamping the net down on top of it. I took a deep breath and dropped the net over our visitor.

Then came three blood-curdling screams. The first was from the bat, whose toes I had apparently whacked with the aluminum rim of the fishing net. The second was from me, as I stared into the flaming eyes and bared fangs of a terrifying little creature less than an arm's length away. The third scream, of course, was sort of a supportive, empathetic one from Beth, who managed to stay in the bedroom and even helped steady my climb down the ladder carrying my cardboard-and-fishing-net bat cage. Down the stairs and out the front door, I carefully set my captive and its temporary housing on the front step and fled back inside to watch him wriggle his way to freedom.

My wife's loving embrace rivaled any that Robin Hood received from Maid Marian. With the emergency over, Beth and I staggered back to bed. We giggled with each relived moment, eventually talking ourselves to sleep.

In the days that followed, my wife and I didn't work quite as late, or as independently. That little bat helped us value the simple, incredible joys of making memories together and solving problems as a team. And we started setting aside some time for each other before we became too exhausted to talk.

You never know what might happen just as you're switching off the light.

Nate Adams is the author of Nine Character Traits Separating the Men from the Boys (Bethany).

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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Busyness; Marriage; Teamwork
Today's Christian Woman, Summer, 1997
Posted September 12, 2008

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