I was an adult before I realized my mother, and, of course, I, had a low affect.
She rarely showed emotions.
While this was probably cultural – our family came from English, Scottish, Northern Irish, Scandinavian and German stock – it is likely also personality.
This meant it was hard for me to even figure out I had emotions, never mind what they were, a training job my husband had to pick up. But, when I was growing up, it had its advantages.
Namely, very little spooked my Mom.
I was in second grade, seven years old, when I woke up one night thinking I heard a burglar crawling in my bedroom window at the foot of my bed.
“Mom, there’s a burglar in my room,” I called out to my mother.
We were renting a big, old house for a year while contractors were building us a modern, new house.
There must not have been enough bedrooms for the five of us, as the dining room on the main floor, right next to the living room, had been converted into a bedroom for me.
My parents were in the living room next door, reading or watching television.
The dining room, paneled in dark wood, had a heavy sliding pocket door that separated it from the living room.
The rustling had wakened me. As I listened, I could only imagine that someone was climbing in the window.
I faced a dilemma.
If I called out, surely the burglar would hear me and maybe try to shut me up.
But, if I didn’t call out, he might try to shut me up anyway.
Clearly, I watched too much tv, though I only remember the cartoons.
I decided in favor of action instead of continued suspence and called out.
My Mom cracked the door open so as not to flood the room with light to my unaccustomed eyes.
“What is it?”
“There’s a burglar in my room.”
At this point, she pulled the door all the way open and flooded it with light from the living room.
“It’s not a burglar, it’s a bat. Keep your head low.”
She closed the door again. Reassured, and with a plan of action, I kept my head low.
When she came back, she soothed me further with a story.
“When I was in college, we did an experiment with bats. We ran strands of string across the room to see if they would run into it. As long as the string didn’t move, they could navigate it quite easily.”
“Just don’t make any sudden moves or it might get caught in your hair.”
At some point, she realized she could not catch the bat by herself nor could she and Dad lure it out the front door.
Eventually, it found its way to the fireplace, up the chimney, and they had to call an exterminator.
Skip ahead eleven years, to my Freshman year in college.
Some boys, thinking to flush screaming girls out the door, threw a bat into the stairway of our dorm.
Seeing the cowering bat on the stairs, I asked my friends if anyone had leather gloves.
Someone brought me thick, leather gloves and I picked up the poor bat and threw it outside.
For making me a hero, thanks Mom.
Carol Covin, Granny-Guru