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A few weeks ago, we went to a friend’s birthday party at a water park.  After we’d gained admission to the park, five year-old No. Two was promptly nowhere to be seen.

“Have you seen Two?” I asked my partner.


So, off to look I went.  Fortunately, the water park had a rather compact design.  There was the splash area, a full sized pool for swimmers, and those learning to swim, and a collection of seven or so water slides, all fed by the same three story tall set of stairs and platforms.  I knew Two wasn’t in the splash area because that’s where we were.  As I meandered between the big pool and the slides, I caught a flash of Two’s ultra-blonde mop of hair out of the corner of my eye and way up.

In disbelief, I looked up the water slide tower to see if I had really spotted Two.  I had to wait a few moments, but I caught a glimpse of him again.  He was at the entrance to the slides on a platform thirty feet up in the air.  He’d lined up behind the other kids and adults all by himself!  As I watched, Two got to the front of the line, worked with the attendant to make his way to the slide he wanted, and headed down.  After tracing out the slide he was on, I scampered around the periphery of the slide landing pads so I’d be waiting where Two was destined to land.  He came flying out of the slide causing a huge splash, got himself out of the landing trough, and headed straight for me on his way to the line to go again.

“Two!  That rocked!”

“It was a lot of fun!  Wanna go!?”

And so, I found myself headed up to a water slide I would have skipped on my own.  Two showed me the ropes, suggested a slide, and off I went.  It was a blast!  Even if I did spend the rest of the week with pool water dripping out of my sinuses.

I was floored with Two’s independence.  Frankly, this is what I’d been hoping for all these years, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when he actually exercised the independence he’s been adeptly learning.

I like to think my partner and I had something to do with Two’s great success.  We’ve really only ever had one playground rule, “You can do whatever you can figure out how to do without an adults help.”  We have a few additional rules about dealing with adults.  First, “You never ever go with an adult other than us.”  Second, “You treat adults just like you treat everyone else.”  Two arrived at a place that looked like a playground to him with a few adults in charge.  He did what he wanted to do and what he could pull off on his own.  When he got to the adult attendants, since he’s been dealing with adults his whole life, he didn’t see it as an issue.  (He told me later he’d tried to go to the even taller slides, but found out from the attendants that he wasn’t the regulation height yet, so he’d come back down on his own.)  Still, I have no idea how much of all this was due to our efforts towards making the gang independent and how much of it was just Two’s personality.  Either way, I’m tickled pink!  The kid saw something he wanted to do, and just did it!


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