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Lock and key

A Farmington mother of five does a pretty lame job at hiding the gifts she's storing and wrapping.

I need a lock on the door to my office. I have a lock, one that locks the door, and you can get in with a special pin that we keep somewhere in the house. But this lock has no key.

I need it.

You see, it's Christmas, and we have five children, all six and under, and they could at any point appear, and the "magic" that is Christmas and Santa Claus and Father Christmas and Hagia Vasilis (the guy as he's known in Greece) -- the cover would be blown sky-high.

I have bluffed and said that I am wrapping my gifts for Daddy, or Grandpa. I have been caught red-handed with some incriminating refills for this Nerf bow and arrow thing that has some specific, jazzy name that now escapes me. I am lame, plus I cannot stay awake past 10 p.m. on any given night, when I could conceivably do this (wrapping, HIDING) with all of them asleep. Much like, say, the Tooth Fairy, who did show up last night actually for Theodore's (age six) fourth missing tooth. Theodore placed the five and the single in the bunny bank, as he's saving for a new car, in about eleven years time. I told him that he and his twin brother Petros should ask his dad for more hours at work. My husband has a building company. They can... well, they can shovel snow.

They are actually getting better at so much of helping out. Place mats, napkins and cups. We keep the kids' plates in this low, accessible-to-them drawer. They can walk their baby sister (age 2) up the stairs. They can get dressed and also ready for bed by themselves. The other day, crazy miracle that is was, they both took showers by themselves!!

This is insanely HUGE. A big deal when there are three smaller, younger children to care for. To be fundamentally: doing less. Amen! Really.

Did I start out by talking about Christmas? Yes, the boys are at the age where they could find me out. My reindeer games, without Ben Affleck. But, they are also joyously gaining independence and lessening our proverbial load. The other night when we had friends over for dinner, I gave them each a book, and said, Here, read yourself to sleep. And... They Did!!

Crazy.

Okay, in a few months time they will be seven. Second grade is rearing its tiny head. My four year-old-daughter has begun simple addition. Her twin brother can hang up his coat. The baby, well, she just says, "I'm a baby." And of course I love this, because she will remain my baby for a lifetime. Little does she know that at fourteen I will still happily carry her anywhere she wants to go.

Oh, that lock. I have this sad blanket over all the Xmas loot. It looks like a big, pink, lumpy clump. It's in a part of the room their eyes rarely get to. I still need a lock and key. Or just to walk around with that pin. If I had any idea where it was.

Jennifer Dulos also blogs at www.fivemakesseven.com.

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