When I dropped my children off to school this morning one of their little friends, who is six and in first grade, ran out of line to ask me a question.
“Hey! Iman’s mom!”
“Yes dear?” I answered.
“Are you leaving the United States of America?”
I blinked a few times. I must’ve blinked a few more. She asked again. “Are you leaving? Like, leaving the country?”
“Not now you mean?” she offered helpfully, “You mean like maybe you’re leaving in a month or so?”
My brain was forced into a gear not typical for 8am on a school morning. It went from 0-60, starting at He Can’t Do That and zooming towards People Thought Hitler Couldn’t Either.
I thought about the way people stare at my eight year old when she wears her favorite hijab, the pink one with the cat ears. I thought about the cashier who reminded me that I was in America, as if I could have possibly forgotten what country I was from or currently in.
I thought about my son, whose classmates tried to call him “Kevin” because Khalid, a name with two syllables and larger-than-life social media star to front it, was “too hard” to say.
I don’t know, to be honest, where my future will be. I had been living abroad for sixteen years before this previous one, and I was happy with the expat life. I came back for the same reason that many move here for in the first place- for opportunity. I have a child with special needs whose future depends on the kind of education and treatment not currently available where I was living. All three of my children have a rare disease whose specialists are concentrated in a handful of countries, and unsurprisingly, America is one of them. I turned back to our little friend.
“No dear. We’re here.”
She grinned and ran off the join her class, mingling with the rest of the six year olds sharing pencils and fears of deportation.
For now, we’re here.