In The News
The London Riots Hit Home: Anxiously Waiting For My Children To Return
Sitting at home in New York watching news of the widespread riots in London, while my children are actually there has been an experience I can’t describe. When the news first broke that a police killing in the Tottenham section of London sparked a protest that led to riots there and around London, I wasn’t that concerned. Tottenham is in north London and my children are with their Dad who lives in west London—which is exactly what I told everyone who called or sent me a text with concern for the children.
Enter sigh of relief here.
But it still hurt. We used to own a home in Tottenham and lived there as a new family, so seeing the familiar streets where I once took long walks pushing my daughter in her stroller as we both discovered our new neighborhood—now up in flames, was difficult enough. I saw my old life and the place of many memories of my marriage burning before my eyes.
But then my son called. And he was crying. I’m not sure why, but his father had allowed him to watch the news (or he somehow saw it) and he was petrified of what was happening around him. He was scared, he said, and he wanted to come home. And it was my 7-year-old son who told me that a riot had indeed occurred on the High Road (main street) of their own neighborhood. Their town had not been mentioned in any news reports here.
I felt a pit in my stomach. I assured my son that they were still a great distance from the main road and that his father would keep them safe. But to be honest, I often question my ex-husband’s judgment. And his ideas of keeping the children safe are often at odds with mine. When I spoke to my wasband, he told me that everything was fine and that I was overreacting to the “crazy American media.” I said I was trying not to panic which is why I was asking him directly instead of assuming. He just said everything was fine and refused to offer any other information. The conversation ended badly.
As a mother, it has been difficult enough dealing with my children being 3,000 plus miles away with an ocean between us for what will be six weeks. Especially when you have a less than ideal co-parenting dynamic. But to be unable to console and comfort them when they need it, has been particularly painful. And I’ve spent the last few days acutely aware of how small the world can be sometimes and the interconnectivity of our lives and to events that for many seem so far away.
I am also saddened by the undercurrent of racial tension that continues to infest not just our country but other countries, where ethnic minorities feel their lives are not valued. They feel disrespected by the police and the government. Just when we think our world is progressing, we see our youth (white ones too) feeling hopeless, and taking drastic measures to express their anguish. This is not what we want for our children. This is not the world I hoped they would inherit.
I don’t have all the answers. Today, I am just a mother worried about my children and anxiously waiting for their safe return home.