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At 11:45 a.m., he stands in line with the others, his empty backpack cinched to his shoulders. With anxious eyes, he waits, scanning the vans in the parking lot, shifting his gaze past moms with flat-ironed hair and foundationed faces.

Until he sees me.

His mommy.

With a too-tired pony tail. And glasses half-way down her face.

He beams and shouts back to his teacher, “That’s my mom! She’s here!”

And he lunges in my direction. Lunges and jumps. And tosses his backpack. Until his five year old arms have reached my waist. And his red cowlick rests on my stomach.

In four seconds he is gone again. Gone with a hoot and whoop to scale the jungle gym. And dangle without arms.

Until his mommy, the one in yoga pants and a thread-spent shirt pulled over her behind, gestures with both arms above her head and hollers his name for home

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