The back of my son’s head.

If I asked you to provide imagery for the word darkness, you might describe the night sky. A sealed, windowless room. The darkest shade of black on a color palette. There would be no end to the visual depictions we could conjure up about that single, powerful word. Darkness.

But what if I asked you to do the same for the word ‘vulnerable’? That’s a bit trickier. You might be able to easily provide a dictionary’s definition, but images are a bit harder to come by. Why? Because it’s open to interpretation. It’s an intangible, a notion. And it’s a human notion at that.

The best I could come up with is the back of my son’s head. The smallness of it. The sweet and untarnished curve of his neck, flowing with warmth and life and innocence, utterly unaware of just how fragile and small and exposed to danger it is. I possess a visceral internal mandate to protect that little warm life to the extent that I’d step in front of a hungry T-Rex to protect it.

When someone disregards the vulnerability of your child and brings them significant harm, the term mama bear becomes nearly laughable in its insufficiency. Mama bear is like 8 miles back in my rear-view. I’ve graduated to a protracted force of nature, eternally poised and ready to strike down any that would bring such harm to my child again. I’m doubtful that’s entirely healthy, but that’s beside the point. Healthy or not, that simply is the reality I find myself in.

To deny or ignore the vulnerability of a child for your own personal gain, as Honey did, is nothing short of monstrous. Whether the disregard is intentional or born out foolish self-deceit, the harm is no less inflicted. Just because you chose to be ignorant of it doesn’t make you innocent of being held responsible for it. Foolishness is defined as a person who acts without wisdom or sense. It’s quite different from stupidity, which is a lack of intelligence. Honey does not lack intelligence. But he is most certainly a self-deceived fool, bumbling through life looking for his personal happiness god (little g) and leaving monstrous, devastating consequences in his wake.

I find it so absurd when, while on Skype, he sucks in his breath and says ‘Oh my goodness, be careful!’ to one of the children when they do something like suddenly stand up on the couch. Fool, do you not realize the outlandish absurdity of your showy gasp? You care if they break a bone, but don’t care that you broke every emotional bone in their body when you moved away? The way you walked out on your children with no intention of parenting them anymore was the equivalent of leaving them in the sporting goods aisle at a Walmart. You were their PARENT. You had a God-given obligation to them, and you failed them utterly. You took their parent away from them. They haven’t touched you or hugged you or been allowed to cry on your neck in four years. You have not lifted one finger to make a meal or give a bath or kiss their faces. Who does this to their children and sleeps at night? To add insult to injury, you are obtuse and nonchalant, as if this is somehow normal. NOT. NORMAL.

I have never said as much to these children, but they know it’s not normal. My son recently told me ‘I don’t want to talk to Dad tonight. He always acts like nothing is wrong.’ Wow. Yep. Even my son can articulate that the abnormality of this quasi-parental relationship he is being forced to endure should show up in the words or face of the dad on the other end, yet it doesn’t. We all see it. Honey doesn’t.

He’s left them in an eternal state of confusion. Do I really have a dad? What does ‘dad’ even mean? Is that a noun or a verb? He wanted to go be a dad to other kids, so I get left with no dad forever? So does he really love me then? What does love even mean when he says it?

Maybe the reason it’s so hard to find some new healthy normal not forever tinged with injustice or sadness or anger is that he’s the selfish, slimy lawyer who left the kids in the car when the T-Rex broke through the enclosure. Instead of getting his comeuppance and getting eaten, he calls them up during the week obtuse and indifferent to how that made them feel. Indifferent to asking about any difficulties they may have experienced after he slunk away to his own refuge. He may never ask if there were any difficulties, but the kids and I will never forget even one moment of our life-and-death gauntlet through the park after his departure. You don’t exactly forget a thing like that.

He does not possess a visceral internal mandate to protect their little lives to the extent that he’d step in front a hungry T-Rex to protect them. He does not grasp their vulnerability. I proceed in all choices, words, and actions related to him and the children hyper-aware of this devastating truth.

I want to shake him, shake some sense into him. But the man I knew’s not there anymore. So I carry this planet of rage on behalf of my children, helpless to stop the circumstances or change them, helpless to welcoming the slimy lawyer into our living room on Skype each week as if he didn’t turn tail like a coward when life got hard and leave the children swinging in the wind. Where’s a hungry T-Rex when you need one?

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