There are dozens.
Aged probably from 7 to 11 or so, all seemingly darting here and there like a snow flurry of prepubescents. Only when you focus can you see that there are little pockets of them not rushing about.
Little groups of 4 to 8 kids standing around the school yard. Boys and girls listening to, and telling exaggerated yarns, giving and receiving game instructions, hearing the latest updates of whatever it is that is important in that world.
Most are wrapped up well against the sharpness in the bright mid-morning March sunshine. The leaders, the cooler kids sacrificing body heat to stand scarfless, dictating to their subjects in unzipped jackets. The groups centre around these leaders, closely circled by others hanging on every word and gesture.
At the edge of one group there is a stray. An extra. A leftover. A boy or a girl standing three or four feet away from the rest. My bus moves on leaving them behind, and it unclear, whether the child was trying to work up the courage to join the group, or showing reluctance to leave it.
Just standing there with hands dug deep into his or her coat pockets watching the others.
7, maybe 8 years of age and already experiencing a nasty reality they can’t possibly yet comprehend. People are often mean for no reason, they exclude, they judge, they persecute. They do it at 8 years of age, they do it at 80.
A reality I know. A lesson I don’t welcome. A mental note of a school I won’t be sending my daughter to.