Look, while we were away, the trees around school went and turned into autumn.
First full day of school today and most students have come back. Many were at other schools around the country and without exception they tell how kind their caretaker classes were. They’ve brought back books and cards and letters from complete strangers, expressing sorrow and wishing us well. Some have even returned with cheques, money raised by mufti days and bake sales and coin trails. The kids here are universally touched but also find it hard to understand why someone a thousand miles away should be concerned about them. I try to explain the moral principle of caring about the welfare of others but they stare at me blankly. “They’re sad for you” I say “And they’re glad it’s not them.” Sighs and nods. And while the kids are back at school, they’re not really ‘back’ yet. Fragile, subdued, gazing wistfully into space. I call a name twice before the head slowly swivels to face me. I see in her eyes something I can’t describe, it’s a sort of hopelessness that was never there before. So I tell a stupid joke and they all giggle a bit. Then Sam tells about the hedgehog that fell down his backyard loo and giggles turn to laughter. Then Laura mimes her grandma using a chemical toilet and the class is howling and wiping the tears from their eyes. Potty humour. Works every time. “So are we going to get these bags done or what Miss?” asks Zach and suddenly school is back on and things start to feel just a little bit more normal.