My son turns six today. These get harder to write every year as my children bloom and grow and become more and more precious. As always (for those of you who have read Things I Love About Stephen, Years 1-5) it’s going to be sappy, so prepare thyselves. Here are some things I love about Stephen.
When he was a baby, Peter and I dreamed of him becoming a leader in our family. Our desire was that he would help establish a clear picture of our values—that he would exemplify the loving culture we are trying to create—to any other kids that enter our family, through birth or adoption. He has done this beyond what we expected, and he’s helped make the large family lifestyle not just possible but beautiful. He is a pace-setter for the other kids in love, respect, courage, tenderness, thoughtfulness, and, of course, silliness. It makes my job unfathomably easier.
I love how he’s a brilliant abstract thinker. When I sit and have an adult-level conversation with him, he understands it all. He asks questions if I use a word he doesn't know. He tracks with me. He responds with insights of his own. And my oh my, his insights are rich.
I love how he loves to hear stories about how difficult he was as a baby. I’ll say things like “Baby Piper took such good naps every day, but Fussy Baby? Oh my. Fussy Baby never ever wanted to take naps.” He giggles diabolically at that. He’s proud that he caused me so much trouble.
I love how he questions everything and thinks for himself. For example, we sing a lullaby to the girls that has the lyric “most beautiful girl in the whole wide world,” and Stephen is greatly troubled by that superlative statement. He told me he thinks I should stop singing that song to them because it says something negative about all the other girls in the world.
I love how he prayed for ISIS nearly every single day for probably three years. Now that Boko Haram is more of a pressing threat, he’s switched his focus to praying for them. He cares greatly about the suffering going on in the world, and he cares about hearts most of all. Every single day he prays that people might know Jesus.
I love how he and Piper can play for hours and hours. They build forts in his bunk bed (Stephen is king of the bungee cords), they built forts in a tree outside, they build hotels with Magna-tiles...though I know he longs for a brother, he is so happy and content to play sweetly with his sister.
I love how he deals with drama when playing with his sister is not so sweet. One day he came to me, sighed dramatically, and said, "Well, it seems that our fun has come to an end. Piper is mad at me for some reason. Can we watch Bear Grylls to cheer up my heart?"
I love how he's respectful. When I tell him to do or not do something, nine times out of ten he says “yes, Mommy.” If he doesn’t like or understand what I said, he says “okay, Mommy, but may I ask why?”
I love how applies himself in mountain biking. I'm not a sports person, but you'd better believe I cried when I saw him pedal his bike as hard as he could, cross the finish line in second place, and pant heavily afterwards because he truly pushed himself to do his best.
I love his sharp sense of humor. The hyper behavior and not-funny silliness that mark this age get on my nerves, and regrettably I have shown too little patience when he acts in those ways, but overall the dude is actually funny. Plus sometimes he's just cute, like when he hid a book in his Chewbacca pajamas when I was putting him to bed.
I love how he's competitive. We play UNO almost every night before bed, and he and I are quite evenly matched. Whenever I win, he tries desperately to "get my throne back." When he finally does reclaim his title as victor, he acts rather kingly, demanding things such as "Bring me my wine!"
I love how he talks about his "style." I'll be decluttering his drawers and ask him why he never wears a particular shirt, and he'll say "It's just not my style." I haven't figured out the formula for what his "style" is yet, but he sure seems to know.
I love how he's a hungry, hungry learner. For example, while I was reading him a book about survival skills, he took copious notes in a journal. Since he's not really writing yet, his "notes" were sketches and doodles, but when I asked him what they meant, he pretty much recited the book back to me!
I love how he loves any bit of autonomy I give him. I let him create a playlist on Amazon Music and he bragged about it to his sisters for days. He cooks chili and cranberry sauce by himself and the seasonings are only a little off. He thrives in responsbility and high expectations.
I love how he still likes to snuggle. When we were reading through the Wingfeather Saga, he and I made an agreement that I would keep reading as long as he would snuggle with me and play with my hair. We ended up reading over an hour most days because this arrangement worked so nicely.
The toughest thing about raising strong-willed children is I feel like I don't have control. His personality, his interests, his fears, even his fashion style, are not up to me. But that's such a good thing, because this boy is so much better than anyone I could've personalized to my liking. He's Stephen, he's brilliant, he's kind, he's my son.
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a former skater dude, and raising little people ages 5, 3, 1, and not-yet-born. I like lime green and sarsaparilla, and I wear my Crocs until they melt. (Florida problems.)
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today