I should have known yesterday was going to be an interesting day when I overheard this conversation in the hallway, before school began.
"Honey, where ARE your pants? Those are your underwear ... who dressed you today?"
The TMH (Trainable Mentally Handicapped) teacher was leaning over , gently questioning one of her charges about the undergarments he was wearing as outergarments. She wasn't scolding the Down's Syndrome child. Her tone was caring and motherly as she attempted to get to the bottom of the missing pants mystery.
She is an angel/mother/teacher combination to the kids in her class and a woman of great patience. The children in her class deal with extreme physical and mental challenges each day, but they are the sweetest group of kids on campus.
I wandered back to my room chuckling over that exchange and dove into a day of teaching.
Near the end of 5th period, the maintenance guy showed up requesting a net ... there was a bat in the gym.
I grabbed a nice insect collecting net with a cloth bag from my store room and warned him about touching the bat.
He took off for the gym, but reappeared in about ten minutes.
"That was quick", I said as I took the net from him.
"Oh some kid, grabbed the bat off the wall and took it outside." he replied.
I stopped in my tracks.
"Oh, John Doe"
"He held the bat in his hands?
"Yup, ... jumped up and scooped it off the gym wall and then took it outside."
I told the maintenance guy to stop by the nurse's office and give her the boy's name.
About 20 minutes later, the nurse showed up at my classroom door.
"If I watch your class, can you go catch that bat? The gym teacher knows where it is and we need to send if off for rabies testing"
I smiled ...
"Sure. Have fun with my most challenging class of the day."
"Challenging" sounds so much better than "worse".
I grabbed the bug net and stopped by the JEEP for a pair of work gloves. Then off to the gym.
When I got to the gym, the poor bat was clinging to the red brick exterior wall about a foot off the ground.
I gently nudged him into the net, shook him down to the bottom of the bag, gave it a twist, and ziptied the neck of the bag to keep him inside.
Then the bat and I rode over the health department.
At this point, the bat is toast.
It's not his fault of course. If the kid had just left it alone, it could have been netted after school and released.
Now it has a date with the lab to have it's brain examined for the rabies virus.
When I arived at the Environmental Services portion of the health department, the one employee on hand, an elderly lady, had a tupperware container ready for the bat.
"Oh, ... he's alive? Usually we receive dead animals for this testing."
"Yes maam, he's alive and we are not going to put him in that box and just let him slowly suffocate. Will it mess up the testing protocols if he is frozen?
There was an upright freezer in the workroom where we were standing.
"No, we freeze raccoon heads when they come in for testing on Friday and the lab is closed until Monday."
"Okay, I'm going to transfer him to your plastic container and then place him in the freezer. It's the most humane thing we can do right now. He'll just slow down, go to sleep, and pass away peacefully."
"Do you want me to help?"
"No, that's okay, I've got this."
She sighed a big sigh of relief and went off to her desk.
I undid the ziptie, untwisted the net bag, and placed the plastic container upside down over the bat, slipping the top under it to capture him.
I placed the container in the freezer and shut the door.
The bat will be tested, but the health department says that almost every single suspect bat that comes in, is positive for rabies. The kid and his parents will be anxiously awaiting word of the test results, because that will determine if the boy gets the series of shots required after rabies exposure.
Had we not captured the bat, he would have had to begin the shots just to be sure.
Remember this story?
That one was heart breaking.
So, I'm doing some bat education around the school, getting teachers to remind kids to leave the campus wildlife alone, and to call me ... preferably during my most "challenging" class if something needs relocating.
Yup, I'd rather deal with a rabid bat any day of the week...