Monday, February 17, 2014

The really big grasshopper and the very little girl

Last night L wandered into our room. There was a grasshopper in my bed. I walked away from it but it followed me. I don't want to sleep with a grasshopper chasing me.

My policy has evolved to "whatever gets the most people back to sleep the fastest is the best answer to any nighttime problem," so I mumbled, rolled over, and lifted our blankets in invitation. Within moments, she was in my arms and snoring softly.

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"Do you remember the dream you had last night, love?" She looked at me dolefully. It wasn't a dream.

"Are you sure?" 

Mommy. There was a grasshopper in my room. It was really big and it was following me. I had to leave.

I've never seen large bugs on the second floor. We have the occasional cricket in the basement, and not in February but we've had a few stinkbugs, maybe a small spider. But she was distressed, whatever it was. "How big was it?" 

She held her hands about six inches apart. I watched her eyes. Was its size magnified by emotion? Or was she estimating how much to exaggerate in order for me to appreciate its terror?  The thing she may have imagined in her sleep was a rat-sized grasshopper.

"Grasshoppers are usually about this big, love." I held my thumb away from my pointer. "And I don't know if there are any in Maryland in February." Her eyes fell, either because I'd failed her in my disbelieving or because she was disappointed in her misestimation of optimal size exaggeration. It's hard to know with this girl. She's complex and nuanced and not above some creative storytelling (where does she get it?). Her sweet face, though, needed me to believe in her, even if I didn't believe in the rat-hopper.

"We'll take care of it, okay?"

How? She needed concrete reassurance. And I was clearly not qualified to deliver.

"Silvia's coming today. She'll change your sheets. She'll search every corner. She'll vacuum it away." Thank goodness for our cleaning lady, and for bugs that don't exist in our home.


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This post was loosely inspired by the novel Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement. Ladydi grew up in rural Mexico, where being a girl is a dangerous thing. She and other girls were “made ugly” to keep protect them from drug traffickers and criminal groups. Join From Left to Write on February 18 we discuss Prayers for the Stolen. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

This book was beautiful. It also included a lot of descriptions of jungle insects.
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