Tuesday, May 18, 2010


It’s been on the shelf for months now, sitting in a box, silver wrapping, strawberry, frosted with sprinkles. Box held six such packages at one time, but five were eaten early fall by Rojo’s classmates.

Bought the box for them anyway, Rojo doesn’t eat Pop-Tarts. Wanted cool food here when his friends came over. Filled the basement fridge with pop, loaded up on chips and snacks, whatever they’d like, whatever they couldn’t have at their houses, whatever would keep them coming back.

Last few years he’d invite a friend over and the friend would invite another and soon we’d have four or five bouncing on the trampoline, shrieking, eating, running around, throwing basketballs into the hoop. Sometimes a friend would even make the suggestion himself, “Can I come over, Rojo?”

My heart would sing, my camera would come out, my eyes would fill with tears of joy: my boy has friends.

Boys are all in seventh grade now, some well into puberty, men really. Manly bodies imprisoning seventh grade maturity. It’s normal. It’s natural. It’s to be expected. It has swept me at the knees.

Nobody is coming back for that Pop-Tart. I have known it for a long time and couldn’t bear to throw it away. I hoped I was wrong. I hoped Rojo would ask to have friends over. I hoped friends would invite themselves.

Yesterday I grabbed it from the box, tossed it in the trash, collapsed the cardboard that had housed my hope, and put it in the bag to get recycled.




  1. There's no such thing as a last pop tart. Pop tarts have shelf lives of well over one hundred years, I do believe. Carrie, this post is so poignant and my heart aches and breaks for you. I hope that the boys come back. I really do.

  2. Oh, God. Now I'm crying for you and for me. Our poptarts? A huge multi-swing swingset. Which, is now apparent, won't ever be shared by playmates. ((hugs))

  3. It ebbs and flows. But the ebb? Is HARD.
    God, I wish we all lived in the same place. Katie would be begging to hang out with Rojo. (and not for the pop tarts).

  4. Oh, my dear. Your hope is much bigger than a Pop Tart box. It may be collapsed now, but it will be recycled in time.
    The things we hope for change. The hope goes on.

  5. Well, you're doing better than I would've. I think I might've actually eaten it and then sat down and cried. :-( Jerri is right, though; the hope will be recycled and something new and wonderful will take the place of those pop-tart play times.

  6. ok, this has been eating at me all day. i get it. like i GET it. and i will sit with you and hold the space ala rojo for days. but i HAVE to say this. i just do.
    they may not be coming now, but it doesn't mean they're not coming. in different forms perhaps than you might have thought, but this journey's far too long to call it now.
    i'm sorry. i'm sorry for the pain. i'm sorry for the feeling that hope is gone.
    but jerri said it, carrie .. hope is too big to be contained - in a pop tart box or anywhere else.
    it'll be back. or more accurately, one of these days you will notice that it never really left.
    ok, i'm done now.
    love, damn it.

  7. Pop Tarts are overrated, anyway. The good news is, Rojo knows he is loved. Rojo knows he has friends.
    I hope you feel the same.

  8. Yes, the big bodies and hairy legs kind of sneak up. They will be back, once they do a little more growing up, and feel a little clearer about who they are and what is important...

  9. All I can say is, I understand how you're feeling. But that seed of hope is still there, and something, somewhere will make it grow again. And no stinkin' pop tart box can take that away from you.

  10. Just sitting here bawling, staring at the screen. Love you.

  11. How poignant. Thank you for sharing. I would love to see this piece published somewhere with a larger audience (including parents of neurotypical kids who have someone like Rojo in their classes) could read it.
    Middle school years can be really rough. These kids just may be more open once they have passed through this phase and have reached a point where they are more accepting of themselves and others.
    Best wishes for hope in the future to you and your son.
    - Joan in PA