03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Where the Wild Things Are

We're having our bathroom done. First, the shower needed to be fixed, and then we determined that the shower needed to be replaced and now the entire bathroom is being gutted and rebuilt.

I'm sharing this because the day that they started the demolition, I left in the morning, to work elsewhere, and when I arrived home, our dogs met me at the door, just freaking out. They were explaining to me, with their contortions and whining and carrying on, that they had allowed strange men into the house having no idea that their intention was to attack my bathroom with jackhammers. They really seemed to feel reponsible for the whole thing. The noise was incredible. There were two jackhammers going in my bathroom.

As the workers finished for the day, I looked at the gaping holes where our shower and tub used to be and asked if any of the holes led outside. "We've had problems with bats," I explained.

The nice jackhammer guy (let's call him Jack) said, "No, don't worry, those holes just lead into your attic."

"Oh my God," I screamed, ducking and running from the bathroom, "our attic is FILLED with bats."

"Um...You live in a house with an attic filled with bats?"

"Yes," I said. Then, seeing his perplexed look, I quickly explained that we didn't stock the attic with bats. If it was our choice they'd live elsewhere.

Jack asked why we didn't have the bats removed and I told him about the bat/wildlife removal expert (we call him Batman) we called in last spring to help us with the bat problem. First, Batman wanted to get rid of the bats in the early spring, by sealing their tiny entrances and egresses, before they had their babies. The bats would be having babies in a few weeks, Batman explained, and if he sealed them from the house after the babies were born, the mothers wouldn't be able to return to them and the babies would die. He started to explain what a stinky situation that would be, but he had already lost me with the words,"mothers" and "dead babies."

"Are the mothers pregnant now?" I asked Batman.

"Yes, he said, "so you really need to get them out before they have the babies."

"But where will they go? What if they can't find another unoccupied attic in time?" I said. Somehow, even pig-faced, flying rodents become somewhat precious to me when I am forced to consider their babies. My attic was, in fact, a bat nursery, and I had to think of the mothers, all plump and expectant, all warm and safe, hanging by their toes from the ceiling.

I determined that that the bats must be allowed to remain in the attic until after the babies were born and able to fly, and then Batman could seal off the house.

Well, the spring came and went and Batman became very busy, but we decided there was no rush. The bats were not coming into the part of the house where we live. They live in a crawl-space part of the attic where nobody goes. So, we passed the summer watching the bats soaring and dipping over the fields each evening, and I must admit that I felt a sense of proud ownership toward them. These bats had been born and bred in my own house and they were a fine-looking bunch. These Leary bats are special, I told myself, then I screamed and shuddered and ran into the barn when one swooped a little too close to my head.

Early last fall, we got another call from Batman. If we wanted the bats out by winter, now was the time. They would be hibernating soon. I had thought bats were migratory for some reason and when I heard that they hibernate, visions of sleeping bear cubs came to my mind. Visions of warm, cuddly, sleeping mammals.

"Where will they go?"

"Someplace else," Batman cried. The man's job is to get rid of bats and he was losing his patience with me. I was having a hard time letting go. They weren't just any bats, now. They were our bats.

So I think you know how the story ends. I imagined my bat families flying from house to house, knocking on eaves and loose clapboards, only to be driven off by the territorial winged residents already there (and bats hate those bat houses, we have them all over our property - it's the one place where bats won't roost). I imagined them huddled in a tree, the mother's frozen wing wrapped around her young, the father wringing his disgusting claws in despair, and the little ones asking, "Why can't we go back in the warm house?"

"Because the selfish witch lady wants the whole place to herself, dear one."

I explained all this to Jack and I saw him catch the eye of another guy in his crew a couple of times. He wasn't exactly backing away, as I told him the story of the bats in the attic. He was leaning away. Just leaning.