Not to toot my own horn but I’m the best mom in the world. I know this because I surprised my child with ice cream after a grueling week of high school application deadlines. Why our children must apply for anything before college is ample fodder for another time. But I digress.
Walking into our city’s finest ice cream shop always charms me. It comes with high schoolers that hurl scoops right into your cup. We tip enthusiastically as one does for fancy flinging. On this particular afternoon, I find four lonely teen servers mucking about, sitting on freezers. No customers. I’m often particularly looselipped when released from my writing cave so I inquired about business. Slow. The flavors. Bizarre but intriguing. Their hair. Solo-dyed in bonny hues of blues and greens.
But my jabber jaw couldn’t stop. I have a hidden, deep-seated affection for adolescence. It’s simply so horrid. Something in life you forget, immediately, once past. Like taxes. Yet here they were, these kids. Bearing it with good cheer. Offering tastes and compliments (my glasses! my boots!). And as someone who will never know the pleasures of tight skin again, I loved them even more. They bundled up my ice cream cake and I turned to exit. Yes, I bought an entire cake. Hard deadlines, teen courage and a moment of existential joy had gotten the better of me.
“Have a nice day!” They chimed goodbye, along with the doorbells. “Bye,” I answered. “Love you!”
It had escaped without consent. This awkward “Love you!” hung in the air, my back turned, two steps to freedom. Time slowed. I debated. Explain? Could dig a bigger hole. Pretend I’ve had a stroke? Dignity prevailed. Run? Oh, come on.
“Love you, too,” said a young male voice. I let it hang in the air as I left. Speechless. For once!
Berry is an Austin-based children’s book author and mother of two. She also teaches writing workshops for young people at cateberry.com.