We tend to do a lot of talking in our house…with this crew, how can you avoid it? But it’s not always just idle talk. We talk about important things quite often. In fact, we do a lot of “school” this way with the kids. We talk about scientific concepts, mathematical equations, and literary endeavours. More often that not, this is around the dinner table…the kids really love to talk about what they’ve learned over the course of the day, and I’ve found that doing this furthers their understanding and knowledge of any given subject. Sometimes, however, the subjects aren’t really “school day” related, but more along the lines of “what is your favorite….?”, the favorite being color, song, animal, etc. The animal category seems to be the most popular, and I’m very often asked to participate and state which animal is my favorite. I usually can’t answer, because there are far too many to choose from. But the next time the question is asked between the passing of the potatoes and the cutting up of the 3 year olds meat, I’m more than prepared to give an answer. Bats. I love bats. Let me expand upon this a bit, and give a bit of history on why as well.

Bats are just generally cool. They are nocturnally adept, more than most mammals…the fact that they are mammals that fly is also a very interesting aspect. They are ecologically beneficial for they rid us of many of the hordes of insects that love to sting and bite. Who can hate an animal that does that? And they are really fun to watch. Go out at dusk, and look up into the sky (something I do quite often). You’ll see them, attempting to “echo”-locate their dinner on the wing. We’ve also discovered that if you throw a baseball up into the air, a few of them will all of a sudden go after it…until of course they discover that it’s far too large to be a bug and disengage, flapping off to find something that is edible.

You may wonder why I find bats so fascinating and, more importantly, why on earth I like them so much. My love of bats stems from my hatred of them in my house. Let me explain this a bit.

One night, as my husband and I were preparing to go to bed, my then 14 year old son yelled down the stairs “Mom, there’s some bird like thing flying around in the hallway!”. I looked at my husband, knowing full well that it wasn’t a bird, and was about to go up the stairs to investigate, but before I could the darn thing flew down the back staircase (the one I was about to ascend, I might add) into the dining room. I, of course, screamed and ran into the living room, grabbed a blanket, and threw it upon my head in an attempt to keep the evil thing out of my hair, since everyone knows that bats live to fly into a woman’s hair. My husband was a bit more calm, thankfully. He did try to get it out of the house, but unfortunately it disappeared into the pantry area, and we couldn’t locate where it actually was. Since the back door was open, we assumed that it found it’s way out (well, my husband assumed this…I on the other hand was not convinced), and proceeded to go to bed. Despite the fact that I had visions of bats flying around my room all night, I finally was able to fall into a much needed sleep.

The next day proved uneventful, even by bedtime when there were no more reports of sightings. The night went by blissfully bat free, thankfully. One batty night was enough for me! The next morning, specifically breakfast time, was a different story.

The children were at the table, about to begin breakfast. I was still in the kitchen, cleaning up a bit when all of sudden I heard screams and general pandemonium coming from the dining room. I rushed in, thinking that someone must have taken too large a bite of oatmeal and was choking to death, when I saw it. A huge bat (it really did look huge) flying around my dining room light…mind you, this was breakfast time. In other words, it was daytime. Hardly the time that you find bats roaming your house in search of whatever it is a bat would be looking for in a house. But there it was, flapping it’s way, surprisingly gracefully, through the dining room as it avoided the lighting fixture and the walls. The kids were going nuts, and since my husband wasn’t home, we had to fend for ourselves. I tried to come up with a plan, but since my mind was reeling with thoughts of hair and blankets, I had a hard time figuring out what to do. Luckily, the thing flew into the office…I immediately slammed the door closed, and looked into the beveled glass door to see what it was doing. More of the same…slowly circling around the ceiling trying to find an escape route. PHEW! That was that…at least until the braver half was home and could do whatever it was he needed to do to get the thing out of my house and back where it belonged (preferably FAR away). Needless to say, the braver half did indeed come home and the winged object that caused far too much excitement was forcibly evicted from my house.

We did have a few more bats in that house during the course of that year. But that first one was the most exciting, and the one that inspired us to learn more about bats. They had always been mysterious and somewhat evil-ish to me…I think I’d seen far too many “Dracula” movies or something in my youth. We invaded our local library many times in search of more and more books about bats. We read bat stories, bat poems, and books about bats in general…did you know that the largest bat in the world has a wingspan of almost 6 feet? Quite a bit bigger than the little brown one in my dining room, that’s for sure!. We also learned that they are the only mammal that flies, and that an average brown bat can eat about 600 mosquitoes in a single hour. We felt sorry for poor Stellaluna who lost his mother, and found out that Tennyson actually wrote about bats in his poetry. In the end, we found out that there really wasn’t anything to fear, and quite a bit to admire about these little winged mammals. Bats were the subject of many dinnertime “school sessions” and I’m sure will be for many more to come. And most importantly, now when I’m asked what my favorite animal is, I’ll be able to say without hesitation: “I absolutely LOVE bats!”. As long as they are not in my house, at least.