The little kids are sheparded onto the city bus by three handlers - one in the middle of the group, one at each end. They march them to the back of the bus and lift them into the seats, two by two.
"Jimmy, you sit here."
"Please scoot back into your seat."
The other passengers move so the kids can all sit together. We long to watch the children but, not wanting to stare, we mostly settle into our usual pose of polite disinterest. I read my book.
When we stop downtown, I step out the side door ahead of the group. Around the corner at the bus station is another collection of kids. Most of them are hanging onto loops in a purple rope. A string of children pulled from some unlikely sea. Their brightly colored jackets make them stand out from the drab adults who pass through the station, tired even at the beginning of the day. One blond-haired boy, free from tether, spins around in uncontrolled glee. A girl bounces up and down happily, drifting a bit apart from the group. As I pass by, one of the adults is already reining her in.
I pull up my hood and hunch my shoulders as I walk away to work in the cold drizzle, and my mind drifts toward the youth behind me.