Thursday, May 22, 2014


The Third Levels (aka 3rd graders) have an annual trip into the Adirondack mountains.  They stay at a beautiful cabin (complete with kitchen and full baths and fireplace) and spend a few days hiking mountains, climbing rocks, learning knots, exploring nature, and bonding as a class.  By the nature of their school, kids rarely transfer in, making it a small group of kids that have mostly known each other since pre-school. And because their school keeps kids in the same room with the same teachers and cohort of kids for three years at a time, they become extremely close knit.   There were only 14 kids in the group and Katie could list sibling-level details about each one--birthdays, favorites, middle names, parents names, pet peeves...  they're close.

This trip, The ADK, is a rite of passage.  Upon return there are only 2-3 weeks of school left and then the ADK kids graduate up to the next classroom.  As a first level Katie watched her 3rd level mentor leave for this trip and come back with a new confidence.  As a second level, she watched some of her closest friends who were a level ahead in her room take the journey.  Now, as a third level herself, she was anxious, eager, and (in her words) nerv-ited, or Nervousted, or Nercited--depending on how much the "nervous" was overtaking the "excited" that moment.

Last week Tuesday, we dropped her off at school at 7AM.  There was much anxious milling around and buzzing before all the duffle bags and backpacks were stowed in the truck and the kids were buckled into the school vans.  Then off they went!

Katie and her best friend, K, at the top of an ADK mountain.
They returned late afternoon Friday--hiking shoes still damp from the morning hikes, bags smelling of bug spray and sunblock.  Katie tumbled out of the school van and into our car, cheeks red from excitement, sun, and wind; eyes a little too bright.  She was, understandably, a little under-rested.  But mostly she was emotional.  She cried most of the night Friday and into Saturday because this long awaited, eagerly anticipated, and thoroughly wonderfully fantastic experience was now behind her.  She sang the praises and glories of the trip but then cried at the end of each anecdote or photo sharing--homesick for her bunk-bed and cabin and friends.

I want to sing some sad mama song here about my girl growing up, but I'm honestly just so happy for her.  She's gained so much confidence in herself and the world in the past few years.  Today she went off to school to do a presentation to most of the school--a research project presentation that she has worked hard on for 3 months -- and her biggest concern was the logistics of changing into her period-appropriate dress.

She's all light and sparkle these days (when she's not a little sass and cunning) and I'm endlessly proud of her.

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