A Love Letter to Cookies and Mom
The thing about middle school is that, as well as classmates, the status quo walks the hallways with you.
by Ashley Trotter, a recent tween with fresh perspective
It wears all the right clothes and smiles at all the right people, and it is just tall enough and slim enough to blend in with the crowd in a way that isn’t totally camouflaged, but definitely passes for conformity.
I didn’t morph to that conformity, I stood out. Because maybe Samuel had called me fat at recess and maybe Fred had told him that that kind of thing really wasn’t cool, bro. But just because calling a girl fat isn’t cool doesn’t mean it’s not true. Standing out means people look at you, and when people look at you they think about the things they see. And Samuel saw that I was fat.
The pink blanket above my head acted as a handkerchief as I laid in bed and wiped my tears with it. Something about letting the sadness wrap me up allowed me to swell with it, and then crash with it as well: it was like the growing of a wave, building and building, yet as the water fell from within me, clumping the tufts of that pink blanket, things again became okay. A cycle only I could - and needed to - go through alone.
Sometimes Mom would come in. She asked a lot of questions about what was wrong, and if I was okay, and how could she make things better. Maybe nothing was really wrong in the grand scheme of things, but for this one small and fragile moment, as a teen, I was feeling ripped open.
The thing is, sometimes it’s okay to be fat because maybe the chicken nuggets the cafeteria served on Wednesdays were the reason I went to school and endured the classrooms in the first place. Also, cookies - after they come out of the oven - should never induce guilt for eating them because if fairy tales don't actually hold magic, then the melting waterfall of milk chocolate of fresh chocolate chip cookies does. And sometimes I wanted to tell Mom that her presence did help, but that I needed to feel sad, too. Needed to understand that being called fat didn’t make me an evil human being or forever condemn me to be lower than anyone else.
A dark pink blob distinguished the place where my blanket had been stained by sadness. It was quiet and I needed the silence, needed to hear the desperate rasps of my own breath. I got up and cracked my bedroom door and walked out to see my mom waiting for me in the old rocking chair whose cushion was worn to the point where it no longer offered comfort, but its presence made the rocking chair the chair that it had been since my toddler years. Mom, too, had withstood the test of time; without her, even in the moments which demanded to be experienced alone, the world would feel off-kilter. She rose and gave me the biggest hug and didn’t tell me it was going to be okay. We both knew better. Instead, she pulled out a tray of cookies from the oven and did that thing where she wiped the remaining tears from the potholes under my eyes with thumbs like windshield wipers. I didn’t tell her everything, but that was enough.