For about the last six weeks, first thing in the morning we have been playing the Baby Bat game at our house. I think this began one day when Anya crawled into bed with me and (maybe – I can’t actually remember what started it all) I was explaining about the fruit bats that fly around our house at night. They make a lot of raucous squawking noises as they eat nectar and fruit off the neighbourhood trees. The next thing, it was:
“Dad – let’s pretend that we’re bats, and you’re the daddy bat, and I’m a baby bat, and we’re flying through the forest together, and we’re flying really fast, and you’re squeaking to me like “Squeak! Squeak!” and I squeak back to you like “SQUEAK! Squeak, squeak!” and we fly some more, and ……”
And so on.
From these beginnings, we’ve developed quite a sophisticated storyline for our game. The plot for this is almost entirely spun by Anya. It’s like we’re in the Baby Batverse. It’s usually more fun to describe the plot of today’s game, in one long run-on sentence, than it is to actually play the game. Here’s the plot of this morning’s game.
There’s Baby Bat, Daddy Bat and Baby Bat Boy (Callum joined the game about a week and a half ago.) We live in a big cave with all the other bats, sleeping all day and hanging by our toes. At night we come out and we hunt insects. (We’re not fruit bats; we’ve become insectivorous about a month ago. Occasionally, we dabble in eating fruit when we see a nice pawpaw tree growing in the forest, but it’s been a fair while since that’s happened.)
We fly through the forest, hunting moths. It’s only ever moths we eat – ladybugs are too cute to eat, and butterflies are too lovely. We all catch them quite well now because we’ve practiced so much. When we catch them, we snatch them into our mouths with this sound – “Haraaamph!” Daddy Bat and Baby Bat Boy usually spit out the wings, but Baby Bat likes the wings the best – she always eats them.
Moths are pretty cool, but one thing that puts a cramp in our night-time hunting is our arch nemesis, the Owl. The Owl, you see, likes to eat baby bats. If he sees any, he swoops on them and tries to catch them in his claws. For that reason, although Baby Bat and Baby Bat Boy can fly pretty well, they usually cling on to Daddy Bat’s side as he flies around. This lets them hide under Daddy Bat’s wings if the owl comes, which happens frequently. Quite often, despite all the hiding, there is still some swooping, and Baby Bat has fallen out of the sky onto the ground. Then it’s a mad rush from Daddy Bat to locate her in the forest (she cries out “Help! Help, Daddy Bat!”) and get to her before The Owl does. So far, so good – although the Owl is a really, really fast flier, we’ve outpaced him because we can twist and turn as we fly much better than him. We then fly back to the cave, and the opening is too small for the Owl to come into. Plus, there are thousands of us bats living in there, so he knows if he tries to come in, he’ll get beaten up.
Even when Baby Bat and Baby Bat Boy are hiding really well, the Owl doesn’t stop trying. He flies up to Daddy Bat and says “Hey! Got any baby bats here tonight? I’m hungry!” Daddy Bat always tries to trick the Owl and he says “Oh, no – no baby bats here, no sir! I think I might have seen some over there, though,” pointing somewhere far, far away in the forest. The Owl usually falls for it, although he comes back surprisingly quickly and tells Daddy Bat that he’s been wrong.
So that’s the usual game. I should also mention that the last two times, the Owl’s been getting trickier. Yesterday, he came along when the Baby Bats weren’t hiding – they were right out in the open, playing in a tree! Only some fast thinking from Daddy Bat saved the day. Daddy Bat managed to convince the Owl that the two Baby Bats he was looking at weren’t actually bats. They were toy bats – they looked so terribly lifelike because they were made of rubber. Because they were rubber, you couldn’t eat them, either, because they’d taste just terrible. (Baby Bat snickered when the Owl fell for that one, let me tell you.) And this morning, we had to tell him the same thing again. We even had to fake having an on-off switch on the Baby Bats, and when Daddy Bat switched their switches to ‘off,’ they had to stop moving and pretend that they were battery-powered Baby Bat toys.