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The Key to His Smile

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"Good Things Come In Small Packages." I can't remember the first time I heard that quote, but my son reminded me of it this Christmas, when he told me that his favorite present was the smallest one in size.

You see, my son and I have an ongoing dialog about how he thinks that I need to give him more freedom and responsibility, and allow him to grow up. He is a mere 11 years old. And maybe I am slightly overprotective, but I really like that other old saying... "It's better to be safe than sorry." He hates that I feel that way; but, being beyond his years in maturity, he understands and respects my feelings.

For months now, he has been asking me for his own house key. It might sound like such a small thing, but for us it became a symbol of giving him more of the adult responsibility that he was asking for. I knew that I would give in eventually, but I enjoyed the many conversations that we had regarding his growing up, and the privileges and obligations that come with it.

Proud to be the mother of such a mature and well-behaved child, I was happy to finally get a duplicate key made, and have it wrapped and waiting for him under the Christmas tree this year. Imagine my delight when, after opening all of his gifts, he confessed to me that the house key was his favorite one.
He is so proud when he is the first one to the front door and he gets to unlock it for us. By watching the look on his face, I know that key symbolizes to him that he is on his way to growing up, and as hard as I try to fight it, in the end, I will allow it to happen. He knows that I won't keep him "under lock and key" forever, although it's tempting to shelter our children too much in this big and scary world.

As this new year begins, my son and I have ended our long-standing debate about whether he was ready for this right of passage. But now I can have fun with the question, "Where IS your house key anyway?" as I watch the look of panic and the frantic 20-second search before he realizes it's right where he put it away at. And at those precious moments, the key always unlocks a smile on both of our proud faces.

At least the question about getting his own car keys is still a few years away - but I'm sure the time will come before I'm ready for it, again.
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