Breaking out and dashing away. Leaving the blackboard, the regimentation, the walls and hallways behind, for Monday is an eon away. Shouts of joy:

Friday, at last.

"What do you think of Friday?" someone asks lason Wilson, a fourth-grade pupil at Brent Elementary School, three blocks southeast of the Capitol at 3rd and D streets SE. His backpack filled with books, his face a light-slow of skepticism and incredulity, he thinks a moment, then answers "Shorely, it is a relief."

All about the neighborhood, legislators, staffers and bureaucrats labor in government offices behind granite walls and curtained windows, apparently oblivious to the weekly celebration erupting out on the streets, where cheers ring out from the mouths of youthful prisoners grabbing 48-hour passes to liberation.

"His name's MacDonald," says Todd Goren, pointing at the pet white rat he showed his fourth-grade class yesterday. He, too, is asked about the meaning of Friday and freedom and he too, gapes at his questioner in puzzlement. "What do you mean, do I like Friday?" he asks, before turning and leaving the whole thing behind.

For others in the raucous crowd, the words flow more easily. Freedom can be defined. A seventh grader boasts that he is allowed to venture to a fast-food restaurant for lunch on Fridays, so long as he has no demerits on his record. Sixth-grader Adam Driver says Friday means the next day is Saturday, which means soccer, of course.

Fifth-grader Elizabeth Williams puts it in mercenary terms. "I get my allowance tonight," says she, while classmate Damon Jeffries says, "There's no bed time."

On Friday an age-old interface occurs between emotional opposites, between routine and spontaneity, a wink in time on a weekly scale where personal desires, suppressed by group regimentation, are freed. Never mind that as time goes by all this can be blurred by six- and seven-day work weeks.

For now, in childhood, Friday holds a kind of magic Celebration is not only deserved here, but necessary. Youth busts loose.

"When you grow older, every day is like Friday," says sixth grader Natika Jackson, a reassuring optimist. "When you grow up nobody can ever tell you what to do or say."

"You're crazy," answers Damon Jeffries. "You gotta work and pay bills and . . ."

"But you're on your own, Damon," Jackson says. "That's important."

The shouts filter into side streets now. The crowd revelers dispersed. No one says "Thank God It's Friday" in those words, but the feeling is all about, and unmistakable.