My littlest child, my last child, my youngest, is headed off to first grade today. All around the blogisphere this week, and next, moms and dads everywhere are surely writing wistful/happy/teary/celebratory posts about this time of the year. It's a time for mixed emotions--relief that the long, unstructured summer days have come to an end; sadness and regret that the long, unstructured summer days have come to an end. Joy over this new milestone--a new grade, a new school year; nostalgia for the last one. Every parent celebrates this new school year, and every parent mourns it, too. I thought I was okay with it all until I mentioned to a colleague the other day that T. started first grade this week. "Are you going to cry?" she asked. Suddenly, I knew I was. T. has been a bundle of nerves and mixed emotions. Her pre-school jitters abated somewhat while my parents were visiting, but then exploded suddenly at bedtime on Monday, the night before meet-the-teacher day. She spilled her worries out to me, first in hiccuping sobs about missing us, then in words. But even as her sobs slowed, I could tell that her worries were also tinged with excitement and anticipation. Then, suddenly, her jitters were gone. She was all smiles and happiness at bedtime last night, the night before first grade. This morning I helped T. get her backpack ready. I packed her lunch up in her pink bento box, filled her new thermos with water, nestled the froggy ice pack next to it. I wrote out an I-love-you note on her napkin. I made sure she had an extra baggie of clothes in her backpack, and an extra pair of sunglasses for the playground. At 9:00 today, while I'm starting my first class of the day, I just know my mind will drift away to her. I'll imagine her walking down the school hallway, holding Scott's hand. I'll watch her turn the corner into her room, and find her cubby, and her desk, and her new friends. I'll send a piece of my heart out to her, as I always do. Soon, our days will settle into the old routines. The summer will seem so far away, those days of paper-doll making and swimming and sno cones and sunscreen will take their place in that long line of other memories. Happy first day of first grade, T.--happy first days to all the kids out there.