Finally, back to school

Waiting with their moms at the bus stop this morning, the Indian Creek kids put on a brave face, teasing each other and playing on the stairs. But when Bill and Igey and their friends stepped aboard the yellow school bus, the mood shifted to one of quiet worry: What would their teachers be like? Would they have hard homework? Were friends from last year coming back to school? Had the bus left anyone behind?

Waiting with their moms at the bus stop this morning, the Indian Creek kids put on a brave face, teasing each other and playing on the stairs. But when Bill and Igey and their friends stepped aboard the yellow school bus, the mood shifted to one of quiet worry: What would their teachers be like? Would they have hard homework? Were friends from last year coming back to school? Had the bus left anyone behind?

Once they got to ICS and tracked down their new classrooms, coat hooks, cubbies, and desks, they traded names and faced a new set of questions: What are dimples? Why are manners important? Why don't we play with guns? All over school this first day, little conversations were taking place - about the perils of blisters, the pros and cons of motorcycle riding - as students wondered aloud and teachers followed their lead.

Teachers, meantime, traded first-day stories in the office, the lunchroom, or wherever they found a little peace. One was tragic: Last week, an ICS family lost everything in a house fire. The daughter, entering kindergarten, was frantic to think she'd lost her backpack and school uniform and wouldn't be able to go to school. When both were discovered among the things her mom had managed to grab when fleeing the house, she hugged them. (The school is collecting food and clothes for the family. Contact: Peg Geronimo, (404) 499-8969 or pgeronimo@intcomschool.org)

New principal Laurent Ditmann's night-before nerves notwithstanding, the day went smoothly. Only four kids cried. The tiny new kindergartners were silent in the hall, parading along importantly, one hand raised above their heads like snorklers. Everyone found their way.

But the day was exhausting. Teachers left tired. When Bill and Igey got home, their mom met them each with a giant bag of Cheetos. It seemed like a foolproof treat, but the boys were spent from a day of newness and anxiety. At Igey's insistence, they traded bags. Then his turned out to be open already, and Bill's closed. Igey started to wail, his mom insisted to Bill that they trade back, and soon both boys were sobbing.

They crunched as they cried, and wiped their tears with cheesy fingers. When the storm had passed, they settled in on the couch with Nickelodeon, to wait for tomorrow.

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