A Dinosaur Train Hypothesis

The kids favourite TV show at the moment is Dinosaur Train. I’ve been thinking about it quite a lot. In fact one might even say I’ve been overthinking it a lot. On the surface it seems like positive, inclusive preschooler fare, but once you’ve watched as much Dinosaur Train as I have, you begin to question what is really going on. There are some things that just don’t quite add up. But its okay guys, I have a hypothesis. Hypotheses?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show let me explain it’s premise:

The Pteranodon Family, whose members are Mr and Mrs Pteranodon, their three biological children and one adopted Tyrannosaurus Rex, Buddy, have good old fashioned family adventures, which revolve around getting to ride on the Dinosaur Train. The Dinosaur Train, guided by their good friend Mr Conductor, not only travels across the world, but also through time. Mr Conductor is a troodon, that’s the dinosaur with the largest brain relative to body mass doncha know and also, presumably, the smartest. He is able to offer the Pteranodon Family a lot of educational information about the Mesozoic Era which makes for an absolutely riveting show.

Now, having read the premise I’m sure you’ll be able to see there are some astonishing inaccuracies, and anachronisms in this show. In fact, I have rather a lot of questions for the makers. PBS, if you are reading this, can you help me out?

Lets deal with the most troubling question. It is well established scientific fact that Tyrannosaurs lived at the very end of Cretaceous, whereas Pteranodons lived in the mid-Cretaceous. There is a whopping 20 million years between them. Did you think we wouldn’t notice? C’mon. Even my four year old knows that. This is a genuine puzzle to him, and I honestly don’t know how to answer him. I don’t like to pry into private family matters, but I really think we need some answers as to the circumstances of Buddy’s adoption. Given that the Pteranodon family have exposed themselves by participating in this show, then I think it is fair to ask. Was Mrs Pteranodon really surprised when one egg hatched and revealed a T-Rex, or is this some kind of long game played on her unsuspecting children?

And who exactly brought the egg back to the mid-Cretaceous? Brought, or should I say smuggled? The only one with unfettered access to a time-travelling device is Mr Conductor himself. What exactly is his part in this? Is he an unsuspecting dupe? Or is he (an intelligent troodon after all) the great Mastermind behind this “adoption”.

I have noticed a quite lackadaisical approach to biosecurity across the program as a whole, not just in this egregious example of a fertilised egg being transmitted through time. Maybe my opinions are skewed having grown-up in New Zealand with our tight airport screenings for unwashed shoes, and bananas neglected in children’s backpacks. The biosecurity risks NZ faces, however, seem tiny compared to criss-crossing the entire Mesozoic! That’s the Triassic, the Jurassic and the Cretaceous just in case you didn’t know. Some 186 million years. Have PBS considered the pathogens being transferred around willy-nilly by these sight-seeing hordes? They don’t just stay on the train you know. The get off and wander around, they eat, and as we all know from watching your excellent ‘Dinosaur Poop’ episode, everybody poops, and OMG what kind of microbes are these dinosaurs spreading throughout time?!

I guess it’s possible that having invented an amazing time-travelling train they’ve also created some sort of containment. We never see it but perhaps they’ve edited out the decomination showers for when they get on or off the train? Still doesn’t explain the poop though. Unless.

Unless they all have to poop on the Train?

Is that how it works PBS?

Speaking of how it works – how does this whole thing work? The only person who ever seems to work in the show is Mr Conductor. He is constantly walking up and down the train checking the tickets that everybody bought. What did they buy them with? Carrion? Money? Mr and Mrs Pteranodon don’t have jobs. Are they recipients of tax welfare? Are you trying to tell me that dinosaurs had money and a welfare state? THAT’S JUST CRAZY!!!!

I know I’ve expressed some concerns about this whole Dinosaur Train organisation but, I’m going to give Mr Conductor the benefit of the doubt, he seems a nice guy. A really nice, cheerful guy.

A really nice, cheerful, intelligent guy.

Too cheerful?

Is Mr Conductor’s cheerfulness a cover for a broken heart?

I just have to wonder, in episode 322 Back In Time they travel all the way back to the Permian (the time period before the Mesozoic), but they don’t ever travel further forward than the Mesozoic. Why?

Because even though they must know their life is but a fleeting blip in the march of time, to travel into the Cenozoic would be to face a truth too cold for their reptilian hearts. It is easy to fool a pteranodon Mr Conductor, but you can’t fool me.

I have two hypotheses as to what is the cause of Mr Conductor’s heart break:

1) No matter how hard he tries he cannot travel any further forward in time. The technology won’t work. The Cenozoic with its mammalian dominant life-forms is off limits to the Dinosaur Train. This torments Mr Conductor. At night, alone, after fretfully picking at his carrion, he lies in bed, staring up at the distant stars and wondering what it is that happens in the Year 186 Million of the Mesozoic. What horror lies ahead? Can it possibly be worse than his imagination?

Or

2) He knows. He knows. Oh, he wishes he didn’t but he does. He can’t forget. He can try, he can put on his whole ‘howdy-doody’ act, he can smile and sing and dance, but every time he yells ‘time tunnel approaching’ he dies a little more inside. Knowing that everything he loves so dear won’t die the gentle death of natural selection but will come to a catastrophic, cataclysmic end. He can’t bear to travel any further forward. It might as well be the end of the world for all he cares. All he can picture is that time he stood close, but not too close, at a convenient-for-sightseeing-but-safe-distance, and watched the intense red and yellow flames streaking through the sky. The enormous BOOM of the impact. The distant blast that knocked him off his feet as he watched the plumes of dust and rock and smoke shoot up into the atmosphere, obliterating the light and suddenly it was cold. So cold.

He couldn’t stay there for long though. He had to get back on the train to poop.

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No Air

Breathing.

The background rhythm of life.

The first breath. The long awaited wail of lungs opening and the shock of air for the first time. Every parent, I think, holds their own breath until they hear it. Some parents have to wait longer than others. Too long.

Then we hardly notice it. Our lungs continue a pattern, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. It is the white noise of our life. If you were an astronaut in deep space, cut off from radio contact, just this noise would be left to assert you are still alive. The swish of your blood through your ears. The air moving through your nostrils as they flare.

We take it for granted. Unless of course, something goes wrong.

The first wrong thing we noticed was a cough at night.

I’m a lifelong asthmatic and I knew what it was. I was not too worried then. I knew what asthma had meant for me and I was confident we could manage it. We started MJ on steroid inhalers. They helped, but not as much as we would have expected.

We noticed more wrong things. A cough after running. A cough on cold days. Snoring. He complained of being tired, constantly. Between his coughing and a baby our nights were sleepless, leaving three of us with dark rings under our eyes.

More than a year later, the dark rings are still there.

Our son has lived the last two winters with a very real constriction in his chest. We as parents, have faced our own metaphorical one. A slow suffocation of our hopes as we try to care for a son who might be playful and cheerful and loud, but who, try as we might, is never quite well.

Sometimes we allow ourselves to think he is improving, that the most recent change to his medication has helped. Even now I think this might be the case. It is hard to hold onto the faith it will last.

Winter is fading. The grey skies are being replaced with blue. The frost coverings on the ground replaced with purple and white crocus. Hope creeps in with the advance of spring. We will get a temporary reprieve at least, without the cold air that shocks his lungs into submission. New worries arise too though, the memory of days last spring where thick white pollen blew through the air like snow. Will it trigger his asthma this year?

I think back to my childhood, with the delay in diagnosis due to me lacking a typical wheeze. For years I thought I was just an uncoordinated and unfit child, now I suspect the truth has more to do with my asthma not being as well controlled as we thought it was. My failure to keep up in PE class was due to a tightness in my chest that, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t quite beat.

I didn’t learn to swim properly until we realised chlorinated pools were one of my triggers. I remember trying to time my breathing to the rhythm of my arms. Always I would end up gasping. Not able to last from left arm, to right arm, to left arm and breathe. I would end up standing in the pool, sucking in the air, watching my peers swim ahead.

MJ is four, and his kindy has a strong emphasis on outside play, whatever the weather. He loves it, and so do we. Lately though the story has changed. He tells us he can’t run as fast, he can’t keep up with his friends, that he was too tired for games. I look at him and I see myself reflected. I see his childhood constricted. I want to set him loose but it is not within my power.

I do not torture myself asking “why’s”. Why him? Why us? Life is unfair and, in balance, I know we are very blessed. Asthma is just the hand we have been dealt. Like any parent, parents of chronically ill children just get on with it. We are all just doing our best. Living our lives. We just have an extra ball to juggle.

We all get extras ball to juggle, sooner or later.

I am not interested in speculating if there is something we could have done differently to avoid it. Asthma and allergy rates are rising, and it is right for scientists to try to understand why that is. Whether it is because we are “too clean” or whether it is exposure to antibiotics or overuse of paracetamol. But on an individual level those questions are meaningless. There is nothing we can point to other than the genes he so obviously inherited from me.

My son has asthma. There is the fact, the truth. Why? Why is meaningless.
Night time arrives. Our bedtime routine with the medicine he resents is fraught. We limp through, he lies down. We sit in the room next door and every evening we listen, on edge. At some point, inevitably, the coughing starts. Every time my heart sinks. It is as though the air leaves the room. Ventolin is a wonderful life saving medication but it is not without side effects. Nervousness. Shaking. Palpitations. Headaches. Insomnia. Would you be surprised to learn that after one, two, three or four doses of Ventolin my son struggles to settle? Too often the price for his breath has been sleep.

I love this bright, sparky, funny son so much it takes my breath away.  Sometimes when I watch him run and play he is so full of life. Other times he runs and then he stops. He just stops. When I see him standing there, when I hear him gasping, again, again, again, it is soul crushing.

We are never more vulnerable than we are in the depths of the night. Asthma visits, like the relentless Nightmare from myth. It rides us hard. My son is left winded, me with the crushing weight of failure on my chest. Failure despite the privilege of access to modern medical knowledge, a socialist health care system, and pharmaceuticals to make this stop. I throw all my balls in the air and hold his medicine to his mouth. I count each breath as we catch them. One, two, three… I feel the coughing ease. I feel his body relax. His symptoms have been kept at bay once more, the Nightmare banished. The air comes back.

We breathe deep, in the dark of his room, in the dark of the night, as he slips back into a sweeter dream. And all that I am left is the weight of a mother’s love.

 

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The world I would give my daughter

My daughter is asleep in her bed.

She lives a safe, secure life. I’m a stay-at-home-parent. She has never been left in the care of anyone other than her parents.

She cannot live all her life this way. I do not want her to.

One day I want her to venture out in this world. I want her to have freedoms. I want her to have choice.

I want her to be able to acknowledge that so many blessings and privileges she enjoys are due to the hard work of women before her. The right to her own money. The right to work, to own property. The right to an education. The right to control her own fertility. The right to marry and divorce, when and if she chooses.

I want her to understand that these blessings and privileges are not extended to all women around the world. I want her to believe in the right for all women to enjoy them. I want her to be unafraid to speak when necessary for those who can’t, and to listen and support those women who can.

I want her to live in a world where her right to exist in public is never questioned, where it will not make her a target for abuse. A world where women can be leaders without being called bossy, argumentative without being called shrill, annoyed without being called hormonal. A world where she can be a mother without being called slummy or yummy. A world where women are not judged by what bathroom they choose, or what size they wear. A world where women are not shamed for the natural functions of their bodies. A world where women are not asking for it. A world where women never have to be told to smile, or brushed off because it was just a joke.

She is too young to ask for things herself. She knows nothing of these troubles. So, while she sleeps, safe in her bed I will be her voice.

This is the world I would give my daughter. Tell me, is this too much to ask?

Just the way you are

Last week we had to take my oldest child for a check-up, and foolishly I took both kids on my own. I thought that my son knows what to expect, and his little sister is used to sitting through appointments too, it’ll be fine.

It wasn’t fine.

Actually the doctor was fine. That bit was fine. I’m a pro at doctor’s appointments. What I apparently can’t manage is taking kids to the toilet.  Trying to cram a toilet visit in was probably a bad idea, but it really looked like waiting would be a worse option. Instead of recognising my motherly wisdom my son just starts yelling
“No. I don’t need to go. Noooo”
And I kinda have to drag him in and practically pry his fingers off the doorframe. Eventually I hustled him in, with his sister toddling along and squeezing in with us. And the whole time he is yelling, and I’m trying to appear competent by remaining calm and collected and firm, not permissive, so I’m saying
“Okay, let’s just try before we see the doctor because we can’t go during our appointment.”
And I don’t know why I even bother because he is not listening, he is just yelling, and it is true he doesn’t need to go – anymore. At some point someone knocked on the door and I tried to hurry him up by pointing out people were waiting but it didn’t help. After resisting sitting on the toilet he is now resisting getting off and washing his hands. Then the toddler inexplicably decided to add to the experience by yelling ‘fart’ loudly and repeatedly. After what felt like a hellish eternity I opened the door, only to see a very tall young doctor about to knock, again.

Unfortunately, I blush very easily.

To be honest, I think I handled it fairly well. It was embarrassing, but kids are kids. The doctor was lovely and took it all in his stride. Too often though, people around you don’t react like that. Like that time when that old man shouted at my upset son on the bus. (To be fair, he was again behaving appallingly, but since he came down with a fever soon after, I think he wasn’t at his most rational. And I know my son well enough to know when yelling isn’t going to work, so I wasn’t yelling and guess what dude, you’re yelling didn’t achieve anything – did it?) Sometimes my husband says I must see the worst come out in people. Sometimes I think I’m just more observant than my husband. Or maybe I’m less competent at parenting than him. Or maybe I’m held to a different (higher) standard of parenting than him due to ingrained patriarchal values. Maybe.

And if you just took these snippets of my days when my son is behaving poorly you might think he was this dreadful, out of control child. He’s not. He has been ill a lot lately, and that does affect his behaviour, but most of the time he is lovely. So I should also tell you about how much he loves to help in the kitchen, and how he helps his father chop vegetables, Child chopping vegetablesdiligently snapping broccoli florets up and even *gasp* eating some of them. Or his limitless curiosity especially when it comes to things like outer space or dinosaurs. Or how patient he is with his sister’s silly games, especially the one where she plays ‘bump, bump’ in her chair and we all have to ‘bump, bump’ along with her, and if he doesn’t bump she yells “Wah-wah bump bump” across the table at him until he bumps. (And no, Wah-wah is not his name, it is just what she calls him. Which is very cute, but as far as legal names go it would be a bad one and what kind of mother do you think I am?)

If you took the snippets of my days when I’m not handling things well, you might think I’m not a great parent. Things don’t always go well. I get cross. I get stretched too thin, especially lately, when I’ve frequently been stuck at home with sick kids. My kids can be infuriating, and it’s exhausting. I definitely, definitely, do not love every minute.

It is never as simple as a good day, or a bad day. My children are all quicksilver. The stars can be all aligned and then along comes a new gravitational body – everything wobbles on its axis. Can I maintain a steady course or will a terminal slide into chaos ensue? Tears dry just as quickly, their eyes sparkle again, and their mother better be ready to leave her own frustrations behind, because the fun is happening, now. They create joy in the most mundane events. A cold wet downpour is a chance to spring from puddle to puddle. Games are invented seemingly out of thin air, and you are all laughing, and life is good and the minutes fly by. Then there are the quiet joys. Like the joy of seeing your four year old intent, concentrating hard on his latest art project.puddle splashing

My hours are full of books and kisses and toys and cuddles and crayon on my walls and TV and chasing and trying to buckle a pram and jumping on the bed. Life. They are full of life.

These little lives feel like they came from nowhere to take over your own. Did you know, did you really understand, how much possibility there was the first time someone handed you your baby? Getting to know your child, to learn how they interpret the world and think and feel is the ultimate privilege of parenthood.

At this age my children’s behaviour can be ridiculous, and appalling, and embarrassing.  But they are four and one. Sometimes people act as though the process of civilisation is something that should take just a couple of weeks, in between weaning and toilet training at what is considered to be the proper time. As though our children are not individuals with their own needs and impulses and fully contained personhood. Instead they are to be controlled and whipped into shape and if you just do it right they will never yell fart at you while locked in a public toilet.

A few weeks ago we had another public argument with my son. Everyone was avoiding our eyes and hurrying past us. It’s funny isn’t it, how there is never anyone stopping to tell you to enjoy “every minute” in these really unenjoyable minutes? Tears dried and noses wiped, we arrived at the pharmacy we needed to go to.  There were long queues, but oh joy, a wooden track with wheels to roll down it. I took the kids to play while my husband waited.

This toy just happened to be in the euphemistically named ‘feminine hygiene” aisle. While the kids played happily a couple approached, and stood whispering in front of the pregnancy tests. There is a lot to think about when buying pregnancy tests. For many it is the first of the arbitrary and important-seeming hurdles that really don’t matter when you look back on them, but boy did you agonise about it at the time. Does the brand matter? And how many should you buy? One might give the answer you want – expect – but will you believe it? What if it is wrong? Perhaps you should buy two just in case. Five, maybe five. Just to be sure. Or maybe this is a false alarm, but what about next month, or the next. Should you buy extra so you have them? Just in case?

They stood, heads bent together and while I tried not to listen they caught my son’s interest. He wandered over, peering around them, cluelessly butting in as only a four year old can, and while I tried to gently re-engage his interest my daughter spotted her opportunity. Gleefully she darted forward, hands mussing shelves, then with a tube of something called ‘intimate soap’ in each hand she sprinted down the exit ramp. I followed the trail of laughter, and luckily caught her before she passed the security alarms.

By the time I had returned all the feminine hygiene products to their proper place the couple were queuing hand in hand. Trepidation, love, possibility spilling out of them, an almost visible aura of hope.

My children were back to playing. These wilful little beings who have taken over our life. Who can make an afternoon or evening a tedious drag. Or make a mundane chore a hilarious adventure. Who test and defy me on a daily basis. Who embarrass and delight me in equal measure. Would I really have them any other way?

And maybe we came across as chaotic. Maybe if my children look willful and defiant that is because they are. But one day they will be adults who won’t throw themselves down to the ground in despair in supermarkets, or sob on buses because their favourite seat is taken, and one day I won’t have to worry about them accidentally shoplifting.

Until then, would I want my son to be less curious? Would I want my daughter to be less cheeky?

I’m lucky, my hopes for the future are already here, right in front of me.

I might not love every minute, but I love them. Every minute, of every day, I’m loving them.

The right sort of immigrant

I’ve watched with increasing horror as Trump’s first week as president has lived up to our worst fears for his presidency. Just days into his term and his administration have legitimised the feelings of those who harbour racism and xenophobia in their hearts. They have attacked the value of truth itself, trying to give it a shifting, subjective status.

I’ve felt sick, reading all this news, feeling so powerless.

These problems, they seem in some ways, so far away. Distant wars in distant lands. A distant president I had no right to vote against. In other ways they feel right in my heart. Families torn apart, grieving. Families just like mine. People who just like me live in a foreign country, speaking a language that is not their own, wondering who of their neighbours want them gone.

I live in safety. What have I to complain about? My whiteness protects me. My passport is for a country I could choose to return to at any time. No border control tried to strip me of my assets when I stepped off the plane and onto Danish soil. Nonetheless, sometimes I struggle, trapped between the local populace and the sort of the immigrant they fear.

If I add the years up, I have spent 14 years of my life living in countries that are not my own. Denmark is the fourth of these. It has also been the most difficult to live in. Perhaps that is because of the language. Perhaps that is because of the rhetoric stoked up by politicians who pander to the nationalists that live among us.

Worldwide the papers write about immigration, about immigrants. Words they want the West to fear. Meanwhile bombs fall on hospitals. Where will the sick people go we ask? We wring our hands. Meanwhile bodies wash up on the European coast. Tsk tsk, we say, those traffickers – shameless. A Dansk Folkeparti MP goes on TV, says we should shoot at the boats. His party put out statements – it’s not official party policy.

Sometimes the polite mask falls, and we see what they are really thinking.

If you are lucky, they will let you in. And they will tell you to integrate. You chose to come here, they say. Now you must leave your foreign ways behind too. Don’t they know, you have left enough of yourself already? Everything familiar, and everything you knew, and every place you can associate with memory. Reshape yourself and how dare you try to hold on to what you can. Be more like us or we will never accept you. Some will never accept you anyway. No matter how much like them you become, you will never be like them.

I see and hear criticisms of immigrants who live and socialise in enclaves. But how do we break out of these enclaves when we can’t speak to you? How many times has a stranger on the street dismissed me as rude? How often do they think I just want to keep to myself when the opposite is true. I’d love to have easy chats with them. Yes, the sun is lovely isn’t it? He’s four. The chemist? Just around that corner. Instead I nod quietly, mind racing, and the moment passes, they have gone, and the words have not reached my tongue yet. Every interaction I can’t avoid weighs heavily. I repeat myself over and over, hvad siger du?

I go to playgroups with other immigrants. We speak English to each other. It is the lingua franca. Our partners all have jobs. Some of the mothers do too. We talk – where can I buy…what are the best shoes for winter…did you know… Our children play. Many are pre-verbal, or only just beginning to speak. It hardly matters to them which language we use yet. They rely on the other cues we give, the tone of voice, our clapping of hands, the universal instinct to catch them as they fall.

My children are lucky. They are young enough to learn. If we stay they will at least have the privilege of looking like they belong. The only barriers to integration they will face come from those with hate in their hearts. I do not believe we have anything to fear from the next generation of immigrants. Unless we turn our back. Unless we mark them as other. As the Danes do of course; some believe you cannot truly be a Dane without Danish parents. My daughter was born here, but in their eyes she will always be efterkommer. How easy would it be, I wonder, for the tolerance we enjoy here to collapse? Could fascism rise to power in Europe again, and strip people like her of a vote?

Now, lists of countries are deemed a security risk by America. Countries where bombs are falling, and famine is imminent and rapes are commonplace. And a sad, pathetic white man sits behind a desk, huddled with a nuclear code, and deems the children ‘dangerous’. Deems them ‘other’. Deems them ‘collateral damage’. Deems them anything other than simply people who will die because he is frightened, hateful man bullying his way through the world supported by other bullies.

Sometimes as a New Zealander it is hard to understand the nationalism they rely on. The white politicians who talk about keeping New Zealand for New Zealanders have always struck me as ridiculous. Embarrassments. They are all descendants from immigrants. How can they lay claim to a sense of exclusive identity when they are not the tangata whenua of our land?

Living in Denmark has opened my eyes somewhat as to why the far-right hold such sway in Europe. It is a view I vehemently disagree with, but we can learn from listening to those on the other side. For centuries Denmark was a poor, homogenous country, and existence here was tough. Agriculture was about scraping out a living, people ate cabbage and apples and potatoes, they worshipped at church, they spoke one language, and they all knew from birth the unspoken rules of what it means to be a Dane. When opportunities came to leave, Danes took them, emigrating to countries like America, and New Zealand.

Then, like places the world over, people began to move into cities, and agriculture became centred on exports. Denmark became prosperous. In the post-world-war period, the principles of egalitarian, educated Denmark we are all familiar with began to form, coupled with a rise in low-skilled manufacturing type jobs. Labour began to be imported, “guest workers” predominantly from Turkey. Naively Denmark did not anticipate that these guest workers would want to stay, but stay they did. And it changed the face of Denmark. The homogenous society of old was disrupted. So as much as it pains me to say it, when people here complain about immigrants bringing in their foreign ways and changing what it means to be Danish, they are not incorrect. Yet, Denmark would not be the prosperous country it is today without that continuing supply of labour. Denmark has a long history of civil tolerance and freedom, and it is hard to argue that the ugly rise in xenophobia is not in itself a change in Danish values.

Putting that aside, I cannot understand these men in America, so blind and removed from their country’s colonial history that they believe the land, and the power invested in it, is rightfully theirs. This anger they have, directed at people without their privilege or their power. Directed at people like me. People who are just like me. As long as people like Trump believe power and privilege is theirs by right, nothing will change.

Trump and the US administration are not the root cause of our current problems. Kenneth Kristensen Berth and the Dansk Folkeparti are not the root cause of intolerance here. Politicians like Phil Twyford and his ‘tsunami of Chinese investment’ comments are not the root cause of the racism in NZ. They are only the problem manifest. The root cause is all the people who sit at home and quietly nod. Those who label me ‘the right sort’ of immigrant. Those who allow these divisions to creep in and quietly, quietly dehumanise those on the wrong side. The problem is those who want all the advantages of trade and travel in a globalised world, but do not recognise that a globalised community will come with that.

Just like the useful labour brought to Denmark in the ‘60’s from Turkey, immigrants the world over contribute to local economies. Only yesterday a NZ public policy think tank released a report saying just that. Fears of immigrants taking jobs and driving up house prices are proven time and time again to be just that, fears, not facts. Being an immigrant is hard. By welcoming those who want to join our communities we can only gain. Keeping immigrants and their children on the outside is how we create problems for our future. That is where the real terror risk lies.

The current Syrian refugee crisis is a much bigger issue, though, than a question over whether they will contribute economically. What is at stake is our own humanity.

I read the news, and this is what I hear: build a wall and keep them out. Watch the boats sink, and watch them drown. Politics has become the gladiatorial sport of our age. Give Trump a chance we were told. It’s just rhetoric, he doesn’t mean it. The hate crimes count climbs. We discover he did mean it, all along.

And I look at myself, standing on shifting sand in a country that is not my own, and I feel so lucky, and I feel so sick, and I feel so sad.

I am sure of one thing though – I would rather be as I am, on the outside of a society looking in, then at the core of something as rotten as Trump’s vision for the world.