Column: Bats! A cellphone cam could prove it nowadaysIn the 1960s, children were not allowed into most hospitals to visit their moms and newborn siblings and dads didn’t get paternity leave.
In the 1960s, children were not allowed into most hospitals to visit their moms and newborn siblings and dads didn’t get paternity leave.
When I was 5, I stayed with a beloved babysitter for a few days. Her name was Theresa, but I called her TeeSee. I remember talking on the phone to my mother. She told me that she had had my baby brother and that his name was Charles. “Chaa-woos?” I replied into the phone.
In early September 1965, I sat on the white plastic seat of a red 1960 Volkswagen Bug which was parked in front of the hospital. Nowadays a dad would probably get in trouble for leaving his little girl alone in a parked car like that. In one of the windows of the hospital, I saw my mother. She was waving at me. Then she held up a baby.
It was the first time I ever saw my little brother, though I couldn’t see him very well.
That was my first memory of a maternity ward, but not the most unusual.
My father was allowed to visit. A day or two after the birth, he showed up at the hospital.
“I have something I want to show you,” he said to my mother. In his hands he held a small, brown paper bag.
He opened the bag up just crack. Inside was a bat — and not the kind used in the World Series last week.
“Get that out of here!” my mom said in a whispered shout, “The hospital will have a fit!”
The bat was alive. “That’s why I got so excited!” said my mom this week when I phoned her to retell the details. She says that Dad left the hospital and came back a little while later.
But what did he do with the bat? I wondered.
“He probably just let it go down by the river,” she said. He wouldn’t kill it, “‘cause bats eat a lot of mosquitos.”
I asked my mom why he brought a bat in a bag to the maternity ward. “Because that’s the way he was!” she said with a scoff and a hint of a smile at the husband she later divorced, though not just because of the bat. Dad was known for pulling antics and telling tall tales, but I suspect in this case he just wanted a little praise for fulfilling his role as proud Protector-of-the-Nest.
Times sure have changed. Nowadays, new grandparents can visit their grandbabies via Skype, parents can get charged with abuse for leaving children in cars, dads can get time off of work to take care of little girls … and if a guy wants to prove he caught a bat while his wife was recovering in the maternity ward he can just snap a photo of it with his cellphone.
So, if you are a young woman about to give birth, be thankful for cellphones with photo-taking abilities so that you and your partner can share the big news.
Naomi Yaeger is editor of the Budgeteer News.