3rd Grade Eve

Katherine starts 3rd grade tomorrow.  She is beyond excited.  I, on the other hand, am not sure what to feel.  Proud? Sad? Scared? Nostalgic? All of the above?  "Third grade" sounds...old.  It seems like, oh, a few months ago that Katherine looked like this.
And now, without warning, she looks like this!
In some ways, sending Kate to 3rd grade has been harder than sending her to kindergarten.
I think part of my difficulty is that I remember being in 3rd grade.  And how hard that year was.  That was the year I learned that other children can be unbearably cruel.  That was the year I realized that not every teacher adored me.  That was the year I discovered the news and the outside world and all the scary things it contained.  That was the year I stopped believing in Santa Claus.  And I'm not ready for my baby to learn those things.

I want to build a coccoon around Katherine.  I want to protect her from all the hard lessons of the world.  And of 3rd grade.  But I know I can't.  And I want her to grow into an adult who can stand strong when the world comes crashing down. So, tomorrow morning I will let her march off to Mrs. B's room, with her highlighters and notebook paper and pens.  And I'll even put on a big smile.  But that doesn't mean that I won't mourn the loss of her innocence.  And of mine.