Strip away the politics and focus on the terrified children

Paul Tong /Op-Art
Paul Tong /Op-Art

Imagine the fear of a child who speaks no English and who is taken away from the only point of constant reference in his young life. If you strip those layers of politics away, one by one, you are capable of seeing how horrible it is.

When I was 7, I took a walk around my new neighborhood in Havertown, Pennsylvania. Back in 1969, kids could do that and expect to circle back safely to our front steps. Unfortunately, I happened upon a “Do Not Enter” sign at the end of a street not two blocks from my house, and panicked. A precocious and obedient young citizen, I stopped. The options were limited: walk down that street and make my way home (but break the law), or never again see my family.

I chose a middle path. I walked up to the nearest house on this side of my newly-discovered Maginot Line and explained my predicament. I must have looked petrified, and I remember tears, so the kind neighbor took me by the hand and led me around the block to my house. When my mother heard what happened, she rolled her eyes and told my father, “We never should have taught her to read.”

I tell you this story to make you chuckle, yes, but also to remind you that we were all children once. It is hard to remember the mindset of wonder, infinite possibility and at the same time, constant and subliminal fear of loss that is the hallmark of childhood. My…

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