Tonight when I tucked Isobel into bed she asked why I looked sad.
I haven’t talked to her about what’s currently happening along the US border because she is small and happy and I don’t want her to know that she lives in a world where people take children away from their parents and put them in cages. But I saw the pictures of this 2 year old asylum seeker today at work and I can’t get her out of my head. Isobel is 3, just barely older. Tonight she “made me a cake” by mixing lollipops, sugar, flour, apricots, and sheep together. Clearly she needs parental guidance. When I saw the pictures I couldn’t help but think of my daughter, barely older, who still needs to sit on my lap at the dentist or when she’s bravely tasting new food. But this girl and over 2,000 others like her can’t be held by their parents right now. So I cried at work (cue emergency early lunch) and I cried again tonight as I held Esther close and feed her to sleep. I must have still been crying a little bit when I went through to Isobel and because she is perfect she worried for me.
And so I told her. I told her that in another country people were taking kids away from their parents and it made me feel sad. Her face got serious and her eyes got wet and she took a big breath and told me “wow that is pretty sad” and I thought “she gets it. And if she can get it how can the people doing it not get it?” and I started to get mad.
But she didn’t get it. She didn’t know what “in another country” meant and the tears started to leak out as she whispered to me with trembling lips “but I don’t want to go”. And so I held her and told that she wasn’t going. No one was taking her away from me. It was happening far away from here and she was safe. And she sighed and smiled and told me “oh it’s ok then, cause we live in Dunedin and no is going to take me”. And I agreed with her because I am so glad that I live in Dunedin and we are safe and no-one is going to take her. We’re ok and I needed her to know she was safe. But I am so heartbroken that there are children tonight who have fled to a strange country and are now alone. Parents who tried to make a better life for their children who now have no indication of when they will be with them again. Heartbroken. Nothing about it is ok. There is no immigration policy that can possibly justify these actions. It is horrifying and gut-wrenching and paralysing, except that I don’t want to be paralysed anymore.
I read Isobel an extra book tonight and I held her for longer than normal. We prayed together. Tomorrow I’m going to start making phone calls. There are numbers to call, email addresses to write to and organisations to donate to here. If you want to sing some music alone or with your small people to rally your protest spirit this is an excellent list.
Tonight hold your babies close. Tomorrow raise whatever voice you have so that other babies can be held close too.