I pushed tired Lily's stroller close to the door to the classroom and glanced inside the open door. Mrs. E was there, and I waved to her. Then Zeke showed me the paper air plane he was having trouble with and I threw it a couple of times with him.
Mrs. E came out of her class room and approached me. She said, "Hi! I'm glad you're here early because it will give us a chance to talk."
I smiled and said nothing.
"I haven't asked at the front office but do they know why Zeke always leaves early?"
This was the question I had known was coming and had even prepared for. But suddenly I was not prepared. I felt caught, seized, collared, trapped. My written, prepared answer dissolved in my brain.
"They don't know," I dodged. "Those ladies are very nice. I fill out the form, we smile and wave and that's it."
"Well, can I ask why he leaves early?" Mrs. E pressed. "I mean, it isn't for speech therapy and it isn't for, you know... I mean, he's doing fine. He can do the work. So what is it?"
A million things went through my head. Insecurity won.
"It's not him," I said, already beginning to crumble. "It's me. I want to pick him up early. I expected that kindergarten would be four hours but this, this is all day-"
"-You wanted a half-day kindergarten class?"
"Yes, and when we didn't get into SuperAwesome School District-"
"-They still have half-day kindergarten?" she asked, surprised.
"Yes, but we didn't get in so..."
"I understand," she said. "I'm old-school. I agree with you. Developmentally, I agree with you."
"We go home and we play," I lied. "We don't do anything special. We play, we do homework-"
"I understand," she said, in as neutral a tone as she could muster. "Well, let's get the homework for today."
Then we went into the classroom and Zeke got his things and I wished her good luck with the rest of the afternoon.
I have spent two months thinking about and trying to defend my decision to pick up Zeke from school early everyday. Now, finally, after the Moment That Mattered, I have my 30 second answer:
I decided that Zeke needs to come home after lunch each day because I believe this is the best thing to do for Zeke. He's five and right now he needs time to play and explore. I am facilitating that.
Zeke and Ben play rescue helicopters, imaginative play very strongly narrated by Zeke with supplemental sound effects by Ben.