jen groeber: mama art

4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.

A Bat in the House is Worth More Than Two in the Bush

This has been a growing weekend, the most bat-tastic  weekend ever, in fact. There’s so much that I want to share. But early symptoms of rabies include cerebral dysfunction and confusion, apparently, so I’m going to write it in list form so it’s easier to get through.

Things I learned this weekend include but are not limited to:

1. Babysitters don’t like bats. They don’t like bats in the living room. Or the upstairs hallway or anywhere else for that matter. I learned this by listening to the cadence of our babysitter’s voice when she called me on date night and said something along the lines of, “There’s a BAT in the house! Ohmigod! BAT! Jen, what do I DOOOOO?!!”

2. Pediatricians treat all bats as rabid bats who have bitten your children, repeatedly, like in Twilight, except those were vampires, but you get the idea. Bites, maiming, death. In fact, that bat may have already killed all my children and all your children, too. Wake them up, drag them into the bright light of the hallway and check. I did.


Cute pediatric waiting room. But were the projectile Matchbox cars necessary?
June 2014

3. Hospitals make you wait. And even if you’re in a cute pediatric waiting room, your four children will eventually start shooting Matchbox cars at each other after approximately 142 minutes.


A bat in the hospital waiting room? Seriously?!
June 2014

4. Even the fear of a huge needle in the posterior (or two) can be forgotten when any screen time is allowed at all. Any screen time. Even cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs II with no sound.


Cloudy with a Chance of Rabies
June 2014

4. Apparently nurses think  rabies immunoglobulin shots in the rump hurt. And coincidentally, nurses like to make sure moms know that rabies immunoglobulin shots in your kids’ rumps hurt. And they’ll tell you that. Over and over. In front of your kids who haven’t gotten their shots yet. Apparently.

5. The kid who volunteers to get the shots first? The one who promises to not cry in front of the others because he doesn’t want to make them scared? It’s not the one you’d think. And watching him climb bravely up on the table, belly down with his butt in the air will be the only thing that will make you almost get the chokey voice through this whole thing.


The bravest one.
Note the big needle in the upper right.
June 2014

6. You go in for rabies shots, like, four times.

7. Don’t assume you no longer have a bat in the house just because the babysitter suggested the bat flew out the back door. Because maybe the bat didn’t fly out the door.  Like, maybe he’s just waiting for you to finish your second round of shots, which happen to be on Father’s Day, just when your mother-in-law walks in with the gluten-free cupcakes, to start his crazy swooping flight around the living room.

(OHMIGOD! HOW DID THE BABYSITTER SURVIVE THIS?! I should have paid her more.)

8. It turns out that “kill the bat humanely, keeping the brain stem intact” means two entirely different things to two parents holding tennis rackets over a bin of their children’s clothing, right next to the bed, on Father’s Day.

"Kill it gently."   "You are crazy! This bat must DIE!"  "Brain stem intact! IN! TACT!"   June 2016

“Kill it gently.”
“You are crazy! This bat must DIE!”
“Brain stem intact! IN! TACT!”
June 2016

9. Family doctors treat bats in the house like mice or birds. Like they’re cute. Like only a crazy person could possibly think that a bat in their house who could survive for three days on water from the beta fish bowl, that can still fly in a circle, could be rabid. So, I’m the crazy one. I’m the crazy one?!

(Has my pediatrician and my family doctor ever met? And in a cage match, who would win? Hard to say.)

10. My mother-in-law would drive a dead bat in a Smart Balance container to the ends of the earth for me (and for her son and grandchildren too, I guess, but whatever…)

11. There are videos on youtube of people dying from rabies. Don’t do it. Don’t go look it up. You will sleep with a tennis racket next to your bed forever.

12. It takes three days to test a bat for rabies. Three days.

And statistically there’s, like, no chance we have rabies. Or at least not much chance. Like, if that bat has rabies I’m buying a lottery ticket. Because I’m that lucky. Also, because we’d all need the rabies shots and they are thousands of dollars each. At least that’s what the lady at our insurance company said. Then she apologized. But then she tried to blame the lack of coverage on Barack Obama, which made an awkward conversation only slightly more awkward. Barack Obama did not let the bat in the back door. My kids did.

So that’s it. Bats in full: possible rabies, probable shots, positively expensive, definite pain in the rump. Apparently.

And if you play your cards right, there just might be a brave little boy who volunteers to go first, who hops off the table rubbing his rump with a tear in his eye and says, “Dat didn’t even haht,” even though it did.

We got rabies shots and all Mom gave us were these stinking popsicles  June 2014

We got rabies shots and all Mom gave us were these stinking popsicles
June 2014


16 comments on “A Bat in the House is Worth More Than Two in the Bush

  1. Jacqueline McDonald
    June 17, 2014

    I’m laughing like a maniac in my office. I hope all are well- and, as a fellow Mom- they had to get the shots due to the mere presence of the bat? (Mind blown!)

    • jgroeber
      June 17, 2014

      So glad you got it! I was afraid everyone would be aghast. Child services and all… And yes, if kids are asleep in the house when the Cullen family arrives, and the bedroom doors are open, some peds really want you to get the rabies shots. It may be CYA. Or it may be… well, rabies. And I feel horrible for the bat (seriously… we do catch and release here) but if a doctor I respect says shots, I say, how many? (It is sort of funny though. I mean, a bat picture book? What are the chances?)

  2. Margie S
    June 17, 2014

    What a nightmare! While the bats could turn your kids into vampires, it looks like the Cloudy with a Chance of Rabies (very funny) video turned them into zombies. Dat wittle boy was so brave! Lol, maybe you can make some t-shirts for your kids, or at least give them 2 popsicles. Hope all is well. Hopefully the family event gods are keeping tabs and you will be spared the lice family event in the future.

    • jgroeber
      June 17, 2014

      It’s interesting you mention t-shirts. They’d made tie dye tees with said bat-defying-babysitter the night before the shots, so that’s what they’re wearing in the pictures! And they did get prizes for the shots.
      If we get lice… seriously. I am without words. I pulled a tick off Reid tonight. Hopefully I’ve done my small pest-ilence penance. Ack!

  3. Cynthia novotny
    June 17, 2014

    Memories like this will last forever . Glad everyone will be ok. Most I ever had was a squirrel come down the chimney and only one child. Must say he was more level headed than I. Not sure which kid took the shot first – watch him, he sounds like a compassionate leader of your little tribe.

  4. ianmooremorrans
    June 17, 2014

    Your rendition of this nightmare situation is absolutely hilarious. Wonderful writing, if not wonderful happenings. Glad you survived and keep up your unique literary approach. You are definitely the next Erma Bombeck!

    • jgroeber
      June 17, 2014

      Thank you for reading it and getting it. I have to say JANYCERESH’s recent post “The Turtle People Are Coming” inspired me a bit. She has such wit about her. But to compare me to Erma Bombeck? She was one of my very early reads and once I read one book (maybe The Grass is Always Greener…?) I was hooked. I read a ton of her work before I was even old enough to understand it. You’ve given me a lovely compliment!

  5. kellylmckenzie
    June 18, 2014

    First of all – congrats on the Erma Bombeck compliment – yes I so aspire to that as well! Must go reread The Grass is Always Greener. Love her.
    Second – thank you for explaining the t-shirts. I was thinking your emerge is so very different from our emerge in that they hand out lovely t-shirts to all the patients …
    Third – a bat? How did my family miss out on a bat? Seriously. That is one adventure I have to admit we missed out on.
    Fourth – Thank you for the subject for my next post. That time my lad shocked the hell out of the xray tech …
    Fifth – The fact that your most unexpected child stepped up to get the shot first? Priceless and yes so tear-worthy.
    Here’s to a batless (at least in terms of nature, not sports)summer for us all …

    • jgroeber
      June 26, 2014

      Ha! I love your comment!
      And the bat results are in. NO RABIES! And after we’d already merrily left the state my pediatrician contacted me to remind me that said bat might be an impostor and she wanted me to continue with the shots. Now, I’m no actuary, but at this point, statistically, there’s a much better chance of winning that lottery than having rabies.
      I’ll look for the xray tech post. Can’t wait!

  6. Jenn Berney
    June 18, 2014

    I got choked up too about your son’s bravery. So sweet. My brother found a bat in his room a few years ago and got the same advice about getting a series of rabies shots. His decision made sense to me, and yet we all worried for a few months.

    • jgroeber
      June 26, 2014

      We skipped out on the final shots after finding the bat and the results coming back negative. It’s crazy to worry, right? But a teensy, weensy piece of me will be counting the days. Ack! (No more bates, please.)

  7. Christina Bourgeois
    June 18, 2014

    I love love *love* your writing 🙂 awesome post. Sorry to hear of the bats untimely demise but glad you are all ok ❤

    • jgroeber
      June 26, 2014

      Ah, thank you. You will notice though that I’m shamefully slow at comment commenting. It’s a flaw. I do so hope you come back for more anyway…

  8. Tandi
    June 19, 2014

    Well as I am a family doctor, I have to put in a plug for the low key practical approach that yours takes. Family doctors see it all, while specialists, at least the ones in Canada, see only sicker patients who have been referred. So their perception is skewered towards illness. In any case, the best way to decide who is right is to get them to arm wrestle.

    I am sorry you had the bat
    incident, but what a great story! My favorite stories are a blend of fact and insight and so I love the part about your son volunteering to be first. Inspiring. Thank you.

    • jgroeber
      June 26, 2014

      We skipped out on the final few shots after getting the bat tested. My pediatrician was still worried it could be a bat-postor (bat-poser? faux-bat? bat-twin?) but I had to say, “Middle ground. I’m going for middle ground here.”
      And my son really did teach me in that moment. They constantly surprise me.

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