Mommy, what do you think the future looks like? If there is a future, that is.

This from my 7-year-old at dinner last night. Lamb chops and couscous, pizza for those not so inclined toward meat on a Sunday.

“If there IS a future?”

Well, if we don’t reduce the carbon footprint, the earth will explode. Deductive reasoning for a second-grader, but oh so fatalistic.

I looked into his peering blue eyes, the concern pooling like a wading pool on a summer hike. He truly believed the world could end imminently and that only we could stop it. What a burden for small narrow shoulders.

“We can only do what we can do, honey,” I said.

We can take a vote. We can tell everyone in the country, and then in other countries, until we tell everyone in the world that they have to change their habits to save the world.

“I think you should work toward a future as an activist,” I said.

I cleared the dishes from the table, and my daughter and I set about making a cake in the Easy Bake Oven. The baby stood alongside his sister on a kitchen chair to frost the small round treat. Eliana poured too many sprinkles on top of the chocolate frosting. It took the two of them 3 minutes to ingest the entire thing.

Then, we climbed into my bed to read books. Eliana brought The Lorax. Where was Asher when we were to read a metaphor for industrial damage?

“I love this book,” Eliana said.

It’s a metaphor, I said.

“What’s that?”

When a story seems to mean one thing but really means another, I said. This one is about a made-up creature called The Lorax but really it’s about the damage humans have done to the environment with their factories.

“I like the Truffula trees,” she said. “They’re pretty.”

And we watched as the pages turned and the trees disappeared, and the sun hid, and the smog clouds covered the landscape, and the fish walked away on their fins, and the brown Barbaloots suffered crummies in their tummies and everyone had to leave but the Once-ler.

It ends on an up note, though. The Once-ler tosses the listening visitor the very last seed to plant a Truffula tree and start the world over again. And we close the book, thinking it’ll happen and the landscape will change.

Asher was in the bathroom while I read the book. I called to him and urged him to come, but he was reading his own tome and waiting for me to clean his ears. I didn’t know. “I can’t read minds, you know,” I told him as I tucked him into bed.

Can I show you the books in this Illustrated Classics series? he asked.

“Of course, honey.” And we set about counting how many we’ve read and how many we have yet to read.

Belief that you can change the world is the quintessential characteristic of an entrepreneur. And my little boy is off to a great start.

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