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.