Last night during our FaceTime chat, my son showed me his new board game. He explained all the rules and how much he looked forward to playing after our call. He finished by saying it was a “Dis-Nay-Nay” game, Match.com Boyfriend cackling in the background like it was the funniest thing he’s ever heard. I was horrified by the comment and resolved to mention it to my ex the next morning when I picked my boy up for our weekend together.

How the fuck does a black guy not see how inappropriate that “joke” is for a little boy with pale skin and ginger hair to be saying with impunity? One of O’s best friends is black. I’m quite sure his mom wouldn’t find it funny. Okay. She might think it’s funny for a minute, but she’d certainly be wondering if his parents are closet racists for teaching him that shit. She’d be thinking twice about letting her own son hang out with ours despite years of friendship. I wouldn’t blame her one bit.

I tried to discuss it with his mom when we met in his daycare parking lot rather than a gas station to “exchange” our son for the first time since she demanded a “neutral location” because she “feels unsafe” coming to my home or me coming to hers after years of doing so with nary a quiver. This whole “Jason The Abuser” narrative she crafted is ridiculous, but it is now the paradigm under which I operate and need to somehow disprove to our Parenting Consultant absent a shred of proof supporting it.

The conversation went about as well as you might imagine. She looked at me with cold contempt, refusing to acknowledge her Basic Bro boyfriend is turning our son into an arrogant little clone. She dismissed my concerns for the nth time, climbed into her silver SUV and drove away without saying a single word, ignoring my pleas to stop making us pay $250 an hour to decide shit that never needed a negotiator before. This new “reality” is not only absurd but wicked expensive as well.

I sent a follow-up email when I got home, but I anticipate never receiving a reply or if I do it’ll be complete bullshit. Just like I didn’t get a reply to my concerns over her roommate’s inability to observe our son’s boundaries. Just like she never responded when I shared concerns over O giving the dude backrubs and his “Oh yeah, that’s the spot!” response in a creepy tone of voice. My son used that same tone of voice when I gave him a backrub which is what put it on my radar.

We finally agreed on a therapist who starts unraveling the truth sometime in the next couple of weeks. I’m confident O will share anything he hasn’t been comfortable sharing with me. The boy has learned to lie recently, but he’s not very good at it and admits the truth with very little encouragement. I’m quite sure a trained professional will finally give me the information I need to understand the nature of the reality my son is living at his mom’s house now. I’m hoping for the best and prepared for the worst.

Either way, it will be amazing to have real data. Actionable intelligence. I’ve waited nine-plus months at this point, so I can be patient for a couple weeks longer. O heads back to daycare Monday since Governor Walz allowed the stay-at-home order to expire. If he won’t be at my house on a more regular basis, I am excited to know he will find relief from his mom’s crazy shit at daycare. They can also better prepare him for 1st grade where he’s fallen far behind under his mom’s haphazard homeschooling.

O’s mental and social well-being are far more important to me now than his physical health given the risks for both being diametrically opposed in severity. His daycare hasn’t had a single case of COVID-19 in the nearly two months we’ve kept him home. His homelife, on the other hand, has gone off the rails in several important ways he doesn’t truly understand yet but feels viscerally. His mom destroyed any sense of safety and sanity he once enjoyed. The damage caused these last nine months may take years to heal.

The lifelong trials my son now faces are just getting started. That makes me unbelievably sad, but I am more committed than ever to be the Steady Eddie in response.