CORONA DEL MAR — Six-year-old Kate Thomas has watched her sister, Ellie, 9, with some envy over the past three years.
Each September that rolls around means fresh pencils and crayons, a smattering of new keychains for a fancy backpack and all the new friends that come with another school year.
This year, finally, it was Kate's turn.
"It's bittersweet," said Kate's mother, Robin Thomas, on Tuesday, the first day of public school.
The pair held hands as they dropped Ellie off at her fourth-grade classroom at Harbor View Elementary. Next stop: Kate's kindergarten classroom.
"You know what's coming, and you just want to enjoy them being kids," Thomas said.
Kate will have the same kindergarten teacher her sister had three years prior, which should help ease the transition for both mother and daughter.
Although, as any parent who's been through the Big First Day knows, there's no stopping the sudden pang of nerves that come with letting go for the first time.