It was raining when she left, but since the cake was in a plastic cake box, she wasn’t worried. Most fifteen-year-old girls would have been a bit more worried about getting their hair wet or something, but that didn’t occur to her. That’s why I knew the mission wasn’t going to be a success. I had to let her go, despite that, because some things you just have to learn on your own and getting rejected by your crush is one of those things. It wouldn’t have mattered what I said, she would have seen me as the obstacle instead of him. So I had to watch her walk away in the rain, knowing it wasn’t going to end well. I had to just let it happen.
It was his birthday. She had already wished him Happy Birthday at school, she had sent him a card, and written something gushy on facebook. He hadn’t responded, so she decided that the only course of action was to start baking. It was a beautiful cake, chocolate with creamy vanilla icing, sprinkled with shaved chocolate. If he had been interested, the cake would have clinched the deal. He wasn’t though, nothing he had ever said or done should have given her any encouragement, but in that way of fifteen-year-old girls, she saw none of it. Her heart continued to beat his name.
He had moved in on the street next to ours at the end of the summer and took up all the available space in her world. Books, video games, swimming and episodes of Adventure Time fell by the wayside as her interests narrowed to where Scott was going to be next and whether he would finally notice her if she went there too. Even though I knew these types of all-consuming crushes were coming, and I remembered them myself, I had been hoping to avoid them for another while. I knew better than to fight her on it though, it was better to let a crush fall apart on its own. Ideally, she would have gotten disillusioned by some minor thing and he would have changed from prince to toad without her embarrassing herself, but that’s not the way this one was playing out.
I knew it would take her about five minutes to get to his place, and another five to get home. If I added in a few wrenching minutes in the middle for the heartbreak, I could expect her back in less than fifteen. And I suspected she would look a lot less than fifteen. I stood guard at the kitchen window for her return.
It took twelve and a half minutes. As she came back up the walkway to our house, her upper body heaved forward with each sob, the rain soaked her hair into flat ribbons on either side of her head, and she kept tripping in her grief. The cake box was still in her hands but it was tilted forward, the icing smeared against the rounded edge inside. She stood just inside the front door drawing every ounce of my sympathy, I stood by the steps leading upstairs and tried to think of the right thing to say.
Being the Mom of a teenager means walking the edge between what once worked and what you know they must learn for themselves, but in this case I stepped fully back in time. I took the cake from her and laid it on the landing, I gathered her into my arms and sat solidly on the steps, my biggest girl on my lap.
“Oh, sweetheart. I’m so sorry for how much this hurts.”
I kissed the top of her head and rocked her while she sobbed.