I am the epitome of cool. They all want to be me. Their faces follow me like sunflowers on a clear day. I am the sun.

They are 5 years old and I am the teacher's husband. Kindergarten adoration is hard to get, but easy to keep.

It all started last fall. My darling wife had landed her first teaching job at a small suburban public school, and senior kindergarten was her class. The nondescript lowest bidder brick construction of the school was fresh out of the late seventies, the orange tile and brown curtains eschewing the fashion sense of countless young minds. My wife soon had her little soldiers regimented and learning, the kinks worked out of the pecking order nicely, placing her firmly on top. She sat at the kitchen table and marked crayon creations and dished out stickers with a contented smile. I envied her job satisfaction. My blue collar toiling was not nearly as satisfying. Then came the bat.

Myotis septentrionalis, the common Northern bat, seeks dry cool dark places to rest during the day. In late summer or early autumn the bats gather and move to the places where they will hibernate. Where better than the high steel rafters of a children's classroom? Mr. Squeekers thought they worked out nicely.

Cut to nap time, Monday morning after the weekend Mr. Squeekers moved in. One blond haired mischief-maker tosses a glossy green block of big children’s Lego at the dark spot on the roof. Pandemonium ensues. One angry bat plus 30 children plus one teacher with a morbid fear of flying rats equals one adlibbed fire drill. Seeing the teacher scream in terror boosts the evil little sprits of the bad eggs. My wife returned home that night in tears, the shine taken off her dream job by a tiny lost animal. Action needed to be taken and I happened to have the day off.

The quizzical looks from the janitor soon turned to animated chitchat when he discovered my reason for invading his supply closet. He tried to catch "that damned bat" last night but met limited success. A pool leaf net and a borrowed broom handle became my tools of battle as the morning class met in the hall, abuzz with rumors of the "flying monster". Talk in the hall had the death toll at 3, largely from razor teeth and laser vision from the eyes. After introducing me to the massed little faces, I vowed to catch the monster all by my self. Hushed awe followed me through the brightly decorated door labeled with my wife's name. 60 little eyes strained to see. I closed the door and the bubbling excitement flowed in the crowd.

The process of catching the poor dehydrated trapped bat was fairly anti-climatic. Slipping in the room, I quickly trapped the sleeping animal against the roof and tapped him gently into the net. After a few angry flaps, I had him securely in hand and ready to release outside. The winged terror was barely the length of my hand. Back to the door to face the crowd.

Complete rapture. I think they expected bloody wounds and giant carcass. The big man with a tiny furry animal in his lightly closed hand was beyond comprehension. They crowded around and the questions started. My wife took control and recommended that a quick return to the class and the formation of a semicircle would lead to their best show and tell presentation ever: Mine. A quick wink and I was pressed into service.

Mr. Squeekers was quickly named, his official moniker just narrowly beating out Stinkyhead and Vampire in the voting. I gingerly showed the kids the wings, explained that he ate bugs and not people, and drew a picture of the natural radar bats use to find food (a little over their heads, as I later heard it repeated as the bat shooting bugs down by screaming at them). They soaked it all up. A quick single file march to the playground followed, and Squeekers was on his way. The cheer that went up when he flapped out of my palm was pure childhood joy.

Having completed my task, I gave my wife a peck on the cheek, a move that disgusted the boys and scandalized the girls. Pleas to stay followed me across the playground to my beat up old motorbike. From the reaction of the kids, I was riding a metal dragon. The holed muffler roared to life and I drove out to the road, chased by the whole class running along the inside of the playground fence. A little tire squeal while turning out of the lot for the crowd dropped some jaws.

They asked about me all week.