Independence Training

"From eighteen months to about age three is really rough, and then at three and a half... It's such a great age. It's so fun. You can reason with them," she told me as we stood in an elementary school cafeteria. We were both there to watch a play put on by my sister-in-law's students.

"You're almost there," she continued. She must have misheard how old Beren was.

"We're there. He's three and a half, and yes, things are good," I said.

Beren uses big, expressive words. He lounges on the couch, or curls up in the big, blue chair to rest. "You're not a chickadee anymore, you're a big boy. You can sit in one place for a moment," Jared tells Beren. He's right.

His independence is beautiful. Jared and I have a bit more time (not for each other - Beren will wedge himself between us if we sit close on the couch, or he'll start talking loudly when Jared and I converse. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, but I catch myself now and again: "I'm talking to Papa right now, and I will tell you where the scissor are when I'm finished.")

"I'm thinking," he says, if I repeat a question that he's not answered. I want to fall off my chair. I'm amazed.

"Papa seems a little sad today. Why do you think that is?" I ask. "He's tired," Beren says. I'm fascinated. I wish I knew what "tired" means to Beren because I can tell that he means something more than sleepy every time he uses the word.

I've been unwittingly waiting for three and a half for three and a half years. I've been advised that I'm too protective, that I might want to wean, that I should do a variety of "independence" training activities. And look, he did it all on his own, with a lot of help.