School is over for today

Its 3 o'clock and the school bell's loud ring is followed by the giggles and laughs of little children running through the corridors and down the steps despite the 'No Running' and 'Walk Only' signs displayed. Their heads bobbing, their hair flying, their faces shining bright with glee. Some run right into their mums' arms who have a look of sheer delight to see their children and who can't wait to hear the day's news. Some skip along to their helpers who are probably as important in their lives as their parents and who welcome them with open arms, snacks boxes ready with their favourite tit -bits. Some move quickly towards their school buses searching for the right bus number and reassured once they see their bus friends and bus mother. There is an atmosphere of joy, of fun, almost like festive spirit though in reality it is just another end to the school day!
A few years ago (or was it many years ago?), I remember how the sound of the school bell going 'gong-gong' would fill me with a sense of excitement and an orderly quiet classroom turns into a noisy mayhem of activity with all of us rushing to pack our bags, grab our waterbottles and racing to stand in a queue for our prayers. We could barely stand still while the prayer would be played or sung on the school loud speaker system and we had to sing along too. My favorites were all the shorter ones! The minute the prayer got over, a louder and longer 'Ding-Dong-Ding-Dong-Ding-Dong' followed and while we dutifully followed each other in a queue while the teacher was around, chaos ruled once we were out of her sight. Pushing, pulling, grabbing, each one of us wanted to be the first one to get out, as if the building was on fire! On reaching the school gates besides looking for my helper who would come to pick us up, I also had to look for my sister who always claimed that she was the first one out everyday and that I always delayed her!
My mind shifts back to the present as I see my son walking out, his eyes searching for me and when he finds me he takes these long, confident strides and walks towards me, with a big smile on his face. I gather my stuff and walk quickly towards him feeling happy and proud; but before I can reach him and envelop him in my arms, my younger son reaches him first and a big bear hug is followed by high-pitched exchanges of news on both sides. I reach them both and envelop them together in my arms (never mind the struggle to get out) and say a short prayer that I learnt years ago in school.
"School is over for today,
Done our work and done our play,
Every close we come to say,
Thank you Heavenly Father!"

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