337 words

We had settled in for drinks and a vegan board of fungi, something that resembled a variety of cheeses but was definitely not cheeses, and a set of five large glasses of house white that smelled like Windex and tasted like the drainage from a laundry basket belonging to a beer league hockey team. Nevertheless, we were happy to be together and to discuss our families and career trajectories after the pandemic finally.

“So, are the kids alright,” I asked the table as the sole parentless and sole male at the table. There were the usual complaints about their child’s schedule being more complex than a NASA satellite’s launch procedures and their careers somewhat flatlining with only the requisite promotion and pay bump over the last four years.

Noticeably there was one muted voice, and when asked how she was, she replied, “we’re considering home-schooling the kids.” With her audience setting down the stems of their glasses, she went on to explain her reasoning. “You know the books being banned arbitrarily in the States,” she said as we all nodded with deep concern. “There’s talk of that happening up here now. Private schools can easily reach thirty grand, and we don’t know how stable my job is. I already feel aged out in my sector, but there is no way that I am equipped to educate my child to acceptable standards.”

As the weeks went by, one of my closest friends echoed her concern with their two-year-old and said that they were making adjustments to their finances just in case the landscape of the public school system deteriorates by the time his daughter heads to first grade.

Just as those of us who are childless can afford to take care of our elders, it may be time that we shift our focus to fights that concern the next generation. Books such as the one pictured here are priceless, brilliant, beautiful and insightful. It pains me to think of a world where such works are repressed or absent.