Thursday, September 5, 2013

Even More on Bats and Education

The third--and hopefully final--episode in my in-house bat saga also has a happy ending...and education was the key. Several days ago, I found a bat in my bathroom cowering under the toilet bowl, freaked out, got online for information, and rescued the bat (who I affectionately named Bruce) by getting him back outside. Two nights ago, another bat (we called him Wayne) was swooping through the house. He got scared and flew into the rafters, squeezing into a crack in the barn beam--we have an unusual house. An exterminator was taking care of some yellow jackets the next day, so I asked him to give an estimate on getting the bat out. He walked the roof, then walked the perimeter, but claimed the house was sealed up tight. The bat must've flown in while a door was open and couldn't get back out. We were on our own.

Tonight, Wayne started swooping through the house again. Because I had read up on the subject and educated myself on how to get a bat out of the house, I remained calm. We scooped up the dogs and put them in their cages in a back room, then shut all doors to that room. My husband got the flashlight and scanned the rafters once Wayne' swooping had stopped. Keeping the light on him caused Wayne to start flying. I had the back door open and was wafting fresh air into the house--from my reading I learned that bats will fly toward fresh air if trapped in a house. He flew towards the door, but retreated. I stepped completely back behind the door. He flew towards the door but turned around again. I fanned the door as he flew away, hoping to flood the house with fresh air--and probably herding mosquitoes into the house as well.

He turned one last time toward the door, and with deep swooping dips, he glided out of the house. Victory! We are--knock on barn beams--bat free! (Although we might need to invite him back in to deal with the resulting mosquito crisis.) So, what lessons did I learn?

First, to reiterate my life philosophy, education is everything. Getting online and finding out what to expect, what the bat was experiencing, and steps to take to solve the problem let me get control of my fear. I could be calm and do what needed to be done. Education let me identify all parts of the problem; for example, I couldn't shoo the bat out the door because bats can't take off flying from the ground. Seeing the cartoon bat illustrations helped me reframe the situation to identify the bat as a scared victim and me as a rescuer. I played out that scenario the first night to great success. When faced with a similar, but significantly altered circumstance--flying versus cowering bat--I applied the other knowledge I had learned from my reading and made use of the confidence gained from success the first go-round.

Second, success helped me solidify an identity of power and confidence in "bat in the house" situations. During the first instance, I was nervous, worried, and fearful--both of hurting the bat and of getting rabies. The success and perspective of feeling like a hero created positive reinforcement. The knowledge I gained was attached to heroism and therefore easily recalled when next needed. The second time, when faced with Wayne swooping through the house, I remained calm and confident and took charge of the situation immediately. I didn't get frustrated or freaked out. I saved Wayne with patience and understanding of the situation--which I got from my education on bats.

Third, when you do things for others, it's easy to do things that are hard or might scare you. Even though the idea of rabies--a thoroughly terrifying thought--was still in my head, my focus was on the rescue mission. If you can frame things as doing for others--even nonhuman others--it helps you focus on what needs to be done. The temptation to imagine all possible scenarios--most, but not all end in needles for me--can paralyze you into inaction. But if you frame the problem as helping someone/ something else, you frame your role as well. Heroes don't get rabies, and the movie version would be awful if it ended in a hospital. Be a hero, have a happy ending.

So, the real hero in this tale--education.

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