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  • They line the wall on either side of the upstairs auditorium in the old school.

    "The stage hasn't changed since I went here," my wife notes "And I think that's the same piano."

    The children's chairs are tattooed by generations of squirming, the original wood stain worn away, no two patterns alike. The chairs themselves do not match each other. The seats are rounded and squared, at varying heights, the backs subtly different.

    Every aspect of this old school and the neighborhood it lives in speaks of comfortable complacency, of things that do not change. These chairs are good enough, they have stood the test of time and been proven strong. I sat in chairs like these, on a floor with this same texture, in my own childhood school, in another country, thousands of miles away.

    It's tempting to look at this proven, assured stolidity with cynicism, given the reason we are here, in the Catholic school across the street from the church where we were married. Room parents for our daughter's class, we sit with dozens of other adults, learning about ways to protect our children from child molesters. A dark and unexplained evil to us, when we were children. Mythical strangers in shadowed cars, wielding temptations to lure us to unspecified but certainly horrible ends. (No, the vice principal explains, most predators are friends and family. Nonetheless, the early image endures.)

    Yet, I see these chairs, and I take solace in them. The world is frightening, their are unexpected threats everywhere, and the chairs are not impressed. We've seen plenty of children come and go, they whisper Their restless energies wear us away. We know they are fragile, but we also know they are stronger than you think. As immortal as we seem to be, the children will endure far beyond us.

    I know they are right.
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