I'm not going to lie. I was hoping for more blog fodder from our camping trip. I thought, surely, given my luck (or lack thereof), some comical element is sure to befall us. But that moment never really came. Oh wait, it kind of did. It just happened before we left.
The kids were at my mom's so that we could get organized. Jan and I packed up the rental car with ease. We were upgraded to a Buick, which was lucky, because I don't know how all that stuff would have fit in a smaller car. Jan dropped me off at my mom's so that I could make it in time to put the kids to bed, then he drove off to hit the bank and buy chips. (A most important camping treat.)
I was about to nurse Lucy, shooing my mom and Nate out of her room. Moments before we had thought we heard my dad come home. He was out for his nightly walk when we heard noises: a door opening, something being knocked over. But my mom's house is big, so we'd just dismissed them when my dad didn't answer. (Also my dad is a weirdo who might not answer should we call out to him. He claims he's hard of hearing, but we think that's an excuse to mask anti-socialism.)
My mom had just shut Lucine's door. A split second later, the door opened and my mom, with Nate's hand still in hers, stepped backward, back into the room. She was looking up and muttered, "What the hell is that?"
Suddenly Nate was trembling. "What was dat?" His lip quivered with fear. I still had no idea what was going on. My sister ran into Lucine's room and slammed the door behind her. "That was a bat, right?" she asked my mom. Nate burst into tears. "It's so scawy! I so scawed Mommy!"
We tried to make jokes about Batman to calm him down. We tried lying to him and telling him it was just a bird. It was no use. He'd seen it. He was creeped out. We were all creeped out. But we had to hide it for his sake. He somehow bought that we weren't scared, even though not a single one of us made an attempt to leave the room.
"What are we going to do? How are we going to get it out?" they worried. But I knew. "Daddy's coming," I told Nate confidently, "He'll know what to do."
But there's no phone in Lucine's room, and no way for us to have warned Jan about the bat.
Moments later Jan burst into the room. "What's that new toy in Dede's room?" This is a totally pertinent line of questioning in my parents' home. There is always some wacky new fangled thing for the kids to play with. They have boxes of hand-me-downs from my cousins and every now and then we make a new discovery.
"It's not a toy. It's real. Nate's scared."
My husband looked at my son's face and within a millisecond he had grabbed a blanket off the bed and was headed out the door.
My husband thinks he's a kind of animal whisperer. He obsessively watches Planet Earth and other nature documentaries. I have seen him outstretch his arm and try to command pigeons to do his bidding. We once witnessed a hilarious drunken altercation between my husband (The Dog) and our friends' actual lab puppy over a blanket. (He literally whispered to the dog until it gave up the blanket willingly and then licked my husband, his kin. This took 15 minutes, during which time every spectator in the house was reduced to hysterical, oh-god-I-can't-breathe laughter. )
In his retelling of the great bat caper, he had considered the bat's blindness and sonar when deciding how best to capture it. He had waited for the bat to come flying toward him, then suddenly blocked the doorway with the comforter. Except when he'd raised his arms, he ended up punching the bat and knocking it out cold.
He quickly scooped it up in the blanket and taken it outside. When he went to release it, he saw nothing. He checked the blanket to see if ol' batty was hanging on, but no. The bat somehow disappeared. Flew like stealth into the night, or so Jan supposes.
He came back somewhat victorious. "Yay! My dad's a superhero!" Nate chanted. He's been retelling the story over and over, never omitting the part about his "superhero dad!" Jan tenderly picked Nate up and guided him through bat-free rooms, making jokes about bats watching TV, in order to quell his son's fears.
I worried that the bat was an omen, that we shouldn't leave for the trip. But the omen was clearly a good one and rested in the capable hands of one handsome, strong, generous and clever Superhero Dad.