We have a bird’s nest on our front door. It sits atop a wreath that’s been hanging there since we moved in. The babies have just been born and now the parents are more vigilant than ever, swooping through and nearly attacking anyone who dares to set foot on our front porch.

I know the birds will quickly grow and fly away, allowing us to reclaim our porch. In fact, I stood in the backyard with a father of Braedan’s friend having that very conversation yesterday while we watched our big boys play on the swingset, mere hours after they’d finished their last day of kindergarten.

Now, I know we’re not empty nesters or anything, but it sure does go by fast, those little babies raising their beaks out of the nest waiting to be fed one day and flying off on their own the next. Suddenly, my first baby stands before me a reading, writing, six-year-old. And I know that as quickly as these past six years have gone by, the next six years will go by and then the six years after that.

He has had a great year, made much easier by the calm consistency of his teacher who provided a necessary sanctuary from the chaos that enveloped our lives. Braedan certainly struggled with Austin’s sickness, much more this time than the first, having a kindergartener’s heightened sense of injustice, but his school remained a place of security and comfort throughout it all.

And, my god, the stuff he’s learned! I knew he would learn to read (since “kindergarten is the new first grade”) but I am nonetheless amazed at his ability to pick up almost any book and decode almost any word in it. And his writing–that has been my favorite thing to witness. He brought home his Writer’s Workshop folder last week, complete with a one-page “story” written each Monday that perfectly captures the scope of his year. From raking leaves and trick-or-treating in the fall to skiing with Daddy and Grampy in the winter to shaving his head for his little brother (“That was a fun day!”) to the more recent entries that cover the front and back of a sheet with “And then . . .,” “And then . . .,” “And then . . .”

As much as Austin has wowed us all, time and again, with his ability to just keep rolling with it, so has Braedan. He is a happy, well-adjusted, rising first grader: