Right before you turn the corner to our house, there’s a nondescript suburban road that ends in a one-lane bridge. It’s one of my favourite streets in Wellington, because it’s lined with cherry trees on both sides. It’s a riot of blossom in summer and a fiery tunnel of red and gold in autumn. I love it every time I drive down it.
There’s a collective at the end of that road where I’ve been meaning, for years, to volunteer, or at least donate to. We used to go to a playgroup run by them, and Nico would play next to a little Somali boy the same age as him, while his hijabbed mother beamed quietly from the sidelines. I assumed she was a refugee, because they do lots of work with refugees, but I realise I never actually asked her, or even spoke to her much directly other than a hello, or to comment on something the kids were doing.
I keep thinking of it today because the littlest boy who died on Friday — a three-year-old — looks so much like that other little boy who used to play with my little boy. It feels wrong that my connection to the Muslim community in New Zealand is so weak; that that thin thread is my frame of reference.
I need to do better. We all need to do better.
I feel sick about not being with my kids today, but I’m pretty sure all I did while I was with them yesterday was stare at my phone. I’m at the point now where I’m ferreting out the horrible comments and the gross racist opinions, and it’s not healthy. It’s not helpful. I need to stop.
I had one negative comment on the post I shared publicly and I feel sick about that too. The comment was ignorant rather than offensive, but I responded in anger. I got mad and attacked this person for coming into my space with her shitty take, for making a post about New Zealand’s lack of responsibility for its own racism an issue about her personal lack of responsibility. I was bitchy. I deleted her comments. I blocked her.
Things I did not do: act with compassion. Be the bigger person. Help her learn anything.
I need to do better.
It’s been a long time since I posted here. I’ve written things but felt no urge to make them public. Maybe that’s a good thing, in this age and climate. I don’t know if I need the world to validate what I think anymore. But I do like to write, and I do miss it. If nothing else, having a blog is good incentive to form my thoughts into something with structure. Publishing a post means making sure it has a beginning and an end. All pieces present and correct.
Writing only for myself ends up being fractured notes and fragments of sentences. It doesn’t require me to question myself and dig deeper, or to do the technical work of making my thoughts readable and relatable. It’s not a very good record for my own future self, let alone whether I care if anyone else is reading.
So maybe I’ll try to do better at this too. Time is a fleeting thing, especially with small children — and mine are already not-so-small, and I’ve barely recorded anything about who they are and what they mean to me. (Hint: amazing and infuriating; everything.)