I look across the table at the 13 year old boy who was picking at his lunch with a blank face. His shoulders slumped and overall demeanor screaming that he didn't want to be here.
I knew he didn't.
"Hey," I call to him. He pauses for a bit then looks up at me, hazel eyes unreadable. "What?" I squint at him, "Do not use that tone with me." He rolls his eyes and finally picks up a fry and pops it in his mouth.
"Look," I start. "I know you're still mad at me and I apologize for what you went through, but Normani's doing all she can to help raise you."
"I don't want her to," he snaps, looking back up at me with a glare. I sigh, running a hand through my hair, "I know, but-,"
"I want my real mum," he slams a fist on the table. "And you drove her away," he sits back in his seat, his school's football jersey on display. I say nothing, deciding to let him have it.
"I like Normani, I do, but she's not my mum," he mutters the last part, looking solemn now. I sit back as well, "Mario, I need you to understand that we were young when we had you-,"
"But then, you got back together and left her again."
"Armario Nathaniel, stop interrupting me. Mind your manners and your tone," I say sternly, but lowly. His gaze drops back to his mostly full plate. "Sorry," he mumbles.
"Speak up and look at me," my tone remains strong. He looks up at me and straightens his shoulders, "I'm sorry."
I nod once in satisfaction.
"Now, I also know that you have a few questions for me. That's why I told Normani to bring you here," I fold my hands on the table top, getting the teens undivided attention.
"I don't like having my own son upset with me. I want to have that connection we had back," I say hopefully. The corner of his mouth twitches slightly and he scoffs with a head shake.
"What is it that you want to know? Don't hold back," I say. He copies my position, staring deep into my eyes.
"Why did you leave Mum... again?" His tone was chipped, but this time, I let it slide. I understand his hostility.
I drag my hand over my face before speaking.
"Well, first, we got back together for your sake. You deserve both parents in your life."
"You didn't love each other?" His head tilts slightly to the right. I shake my head, "It wasn't like that. I will always have love for your mother, but we're two completely different people."
"Opposites attract, though... right?" He asked expectantly. "Not always, mijo," I admit sadly. He stares at me, waiting for me to continue.
"Her and I only came back for you. Then she found out about Maddie, even though she wasn't a secret. She blew up on me and then...," I shrug. "She left."
"I thought it was you that left."
"That was the first time. You were about 7 when we split."
"Then she went back to the UK," he states, basically finishing my thought. I nod, "But don't blame her. You were right. I did push her away. Finding out about Maddie was the last straw."
A part of me doesn't want to reveal that side of me in fear of his sight of me. Though, I've been teaching him about honesty and voicing emotions. I'd be a hypocrite if I lied or held anything back.