Mosquitoes and Blood and Cartilage
By: Barbara Matousek
We are lying in bed together, curled up next to each other in the twin mattress shoved in between my bed and the east wall of my bedroom. We call it “the pink bed” because of the bright pink sheet on it that matches the decor in Eva’s room. It used to be in the closet in Eva’s bedroom, reserved for guests, but when Sam started to climb in to my bed every night at 3am, I placed it in my bedroom as his backup location. I don’t remember when he started just sleeping there every night. The light from the master bathroom shower casts a light glow over Sam’s face and the scab on his left cheek from where he scratched himself last week is almost gone. He pulls his blanket up to his chest and shivers. I have told him it’s time to go to sleep, that it’s way past his bedtime, that we have an early morning. But as usual, this doesn’t stop him from telling me a story. This is almost always his strategy for moving around Mommy’s rules.
“Sometimes mosquitoes don’t like the blood that they suck out,” he tells me. A mosquito had bit me earlier in the evening and Sam had been fascinated by the way they suck blood out of animals. “Sometimes they don’t like the blood and they shoot it out through their needle things.”
I laugh a little. I know this will inevitably delay sleep but some nights I can’t help it. He knows this.
“They shoot it out through their needle thing and it covers the whole, whole, whole, whole…” His hand comes out of the covers and moves in circles above his head. “…whole, whole, whole, whole yellow line in the middle of the road.”
“It does? That’s a lot of blood for a tiny little mosquito.” I know I shouldn’t ask, shouldn’t continue this. I know it will encourage him. But I can’t help but want to encourage him when he creates stories.
“Yah. It’s lots and lots of blood and it makes the cars slip on the road.”
“Oh no. That’s not good.”
“You have to be careful when you’re driving around mosquitoes,” he says. I laugh and he smiles.
“You’re right,” I say. “Now let’s go to sleep. It’s time to go to sleep. We have a long day tomorrow.”
He puts his hand back under the covers and turns over to face the wall. I close my eyes and take deep breaths but his body still hasn’t stopped moving and I know it will be a while before he melts in to sleep.
“Mommy?” he says as he turns back around. “What is that cart stuff that sharks have instead of bones?” I tell him cartilage.
“Cart ledge,” he says.
“Cart a Lidge. Cart Lidge.”
“Cart a Lidge,” he says. “Cartilage. Mosquitoes don’t have bones. They have cartilage like sharks so they can bend and twist and never get caught.”
“I bet you’re right,” I say and I tickle him a little on the back of his leg. “Now go to sleep Mosquito Boy!”
He laughs and squirms and we say our I-love-yous for the fourth time tonight, and we once again try for sleep that I know is probably a long way off.