December 15, 2008 (the baby’s third Birthday) was the last time my ex made a resurrected cameo appearance in his son’s life. A total of one and a half hours to be exact. Whoo hoo!!! He came into the restaurant looking like a Latino Santa Claus, hauling in a giant Toys R Us bag filled with toys that were too advanced (bottom of the toy train said ‘not recommended for children 4 and under’), and clothes that were sizes way too small. He tried desperately to make a connection, but the baby clung to me, unsure as to who the heck this man bearing gifts was.
He was nervous. Partly because I stated in the Court Order that he was to come sober and consume no alcohol during the visit. His close friend Captain Morgan was going to have to wait till after. Towards the end, he held the baby in his arms for less than a minute, trying to get him to smile. Nope. Didn’t work. The baby’s body language clearly read, “Who are YOU?”. Exasperated, he handed him to me and said his infamous line, “I gotta go.”
“Of course you have to go, that’s what you’re best at!”
He stood in silence. He then took out a crisp fifty dollar bill and placed it confidently on the table.
“For your dinner.”
I continued to smile, realizing that we did not need his appearance every couple of years.
“What are you waiting for? Go ahead and turn your back. That’s what we’re used to seeing anyway.”
He left. I paid my bill and left a fifty dollar tip.
Today, I am thankful for Fathers that choose their Presence over their Presents. I salute you.