“Teach your children well, their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams, the one they fix, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.”
“Teach Your Children,” by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young
‘What a fucking spread!’
‘Who woulda thought?’ Frances agreed.
‘Bagels, lox, whitefish, coffee, salami, bologna, provolone, macaroni—”
Several parents crowded the cream cheese station at the back of the auditorium. Henry admired his wife’s breasts as she crouched to pick up a tomato. 37.5% of the couples there were gay. Mr. Hall, the middle school coordinator, wore a pesto green suit. The hunchback look worked for him. Everyone there paid $2.75 to ride the train to P.S. 463 if they didn’t hop the turnstile. But by the looks of it, there were a few who might’ve jumped.
‘Hey!’ Caleb, 4’6”, rushed over and hugged his parents. ‘Thanks for coming!’
The chatter inconspicuously petered out when Mr. Hall tapped the microphone. ‘Family, friends, distinguished guests: thank you for coming to P.S. 463’s annual Role Model Day! In humanities this year, the students considered adolescence. In lieu of their studies, they reflected on their role model’s unique qualities that they hope to emulate as rising middle schoolers. Today, you will hear some of their thoughts.’
A little girl climbed on stage. Mr. Hall adjusted the microphone stand appropriately. She looked down at her notecard: ‘Hi.’
After a pause, the audience realized it was being invited to exchange greetings. ‘Hi!’
She continued, ‘My name is June Langley and my role model is Hermione. Most of all, Hermione is a genius. One day, I want to be a genius. Hermione also helps Harry beat Voldemort again and again and again. I want to defeat evil, too!’ June bowed, and the crowd cheered. An ‘I love you sweetie!’ and, ‘You are a genius, babe!’ were made out from the clamor. Surely it was June’s parents.
Another girl stepped on stage. Her name was Anne Carney. She had no index card. Her role model was Serena Williams. Serena, she informed the crowd, always wins and hates to lose. Anne does, too, she tells the full house. When she grows up she wants to be successful, like Serena! The sound level meter for June’s speech reached a higher altitude.
Now Caleb hurried up the steps. He took a piece of crumbled paper out of his pocket and unwrinkled it. This had BOY written all over it. Not once did he lift his eyes. ‘My name is Caleb Monroe and my role models are my mom and dad. Mom wakes up everyday at 5:00 and packs my lunch. She fills the fridge with my favorite snacks. Dad fought in court for my autistic brother Fred to go to a good school. He drops me at basketball practice after school and always wants to play. They are exhausted from work and then come home and cook. If there is no food, they go shopping. And tomorrow they’ll do it all again. They do not get paid for this job, and never ask for anyone to clap for their demanding work. Being a parent is so heroic. There’s no applause for a hero.’
The audience has no idea how to respond.
word by Jacob Goldberg
“After I learned that “La Practique Du Calcul” roughly translated to “basic calculus,” I wanted to write about how difficult calculus was for me but easy for others. With that in mind, I hoped to sketch a story about something that I feel is at once important, simple, and uniquely hard: showing appreciation and love for those that really matter to us.”
colour by Julien Coquentin