Dylan and I met for dinner at a local restaurant. I wanted to see him because I missed him. I wanted to connect with him if possible. A few days prior I received a call from the school police officer. Dylan had been verbally confrontational with him and then spat on his police car.

The parent part of me felt that I needed to try to stop Dylan from where he was going. As a result of his actions, he was now facing charges in the juvenile justice system. His problems with anger and authority were likely to lead him to jail or prison, if he didn’t change his course. So although I was hoping for a connection, I also felt it was imperative to talk to him about his actions and the resulting consequences.

Bird dropped him off and Dylan strode into the restaurant with his usual swagger. He was wearing his long dark curly hair tied back in a man bun, and a tie-dyed bandana was tied around his forehead. His boots made him at least a foot taller than me. He was wearing beads around his neck and wrist. His eyes were dark and flashing. I could tell he was high on something. We ordered and he inhaled his meal quickly. We made small talk.

I mentioned the police incident. I tried to take the assertive authoritative role that had worked in the past. I expressed my concerns. And then it began.

“I’m not taking life advice from you, Jess“. Dylan had begun calling me by my first name instead of “mom” or “mama”. When he said my name he emphasized it. “You’re a horrible mother. You’ve never done anything for me.”

He began listing my failings one by one. I attempted to address each one, apologized and attempted to reason with him. His anger grew and then erupted. He jumped out of the booth and walked out the door.

I called Bird. “He just walked out. I don’t know where he went.”

Were you guys fighting? Bird said with an accusatory tone.

“I wasn’t fighting, but he was,” I replied.

“I’ll be right there,” she said.

Suddenly Dylan reappeared, reeking of cigarette smoke. The nicotine had diminished his edge by a small margin. He sat down and resumed his attack. Again I felt confused and unsure of how to respond. A lot of his complaints seemed to be related to the custody lawsuit Bird had filed against me two years prior. He was now claiming that during the time that he did not want to communicate with Bird it was because I had refused to allow him to. This story line and the distorted reality around it was infuriating to me. After trying to be calm and rational my anger boiled over and I said something flippant.

He flew out of the booth and walked to the door. Before he pushed it open he looked back at me and yelled, “Fuck you Jess!”

I sat there, shell-shocked. The other patrons in the restaurant were looking at me and squirming in their seats.

The woman who had been our server came over and sat next to me in the booth. She put her arm around me said, “I’m so sorry that happened. That must have been really hard.” She seemed to understand exactly what happened and had probably overheard some of our conversation while she was waiting on us.

I took great comfort in her gesture, a complete stranger offering compassion at the time when I needed it most.

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