What a sweeeeeet year it's been with him, specifically the past four months. I refused to accept "the terrible two's" as a legitimate "phase" that toddlers must inevitably go through, but I certainly see why it's such an infamous year in a child's life. The will is strong and the parent's authority is tested. There were many instances where I could think of little else other than "this is a battle, and I need to win it" and I would have to persevere for an hour over a very small act of defiance...and many times I just threw him an iPad or gave him some apple juice and the battle was lost.
But now, finally, I'm starting to see the war is being won. Stephen is finally understanding that I'm his mom and he needs to respect me. This is so important to me not because I'm an egotistical despot but because God has called me to be the authority over my children (and under Peter) and families function immeasurably better when the parents are clearly the ones in charge. Everyone is more happy. Obviously parenting isn't over, and anyone who has been around us for more than five minutes knows very well that Stephen's not the perfect kid and I'm not the perfect mom, but wow, I see so much growth in my boy as he learns to obey, and my biggest hope in all of this is that one day he will see that he cannot be his own savior and he needs Jesus.
That said, here are some things I absolutely love about my boy Stephen.
When I lay him down for a nap or bedtime, he will lean over and say in the sweetest voice he can muster, "May me play Mommy's hair few minutes?", to which I can't imagine being able to say no.
He says almost every word imperfectly, which makes nearly every sentence adorable. "Fox" sounds exactly like a particular four-letter word, and scoop is pronounced "poop." We try not to laugh when he very seriously tells us something like "Me poop some rice onto me plate."
This has been a pretty emotional year for me. Unfortunately, he's caught me crying sometimes. He will often ask "Why Mommy sad?" and give me a big long hug. One time he brought me a Bible. Then he wants to make sure he did his job and he'll inquire, "Me make you happy, Mommy?"
I love how he cares for his sister. Oftentimes when I'm making dinner, I'll have to put Piper in her crib so she can't get into trouble. She will scream and scream until suddenly I'll hear a "Peekaboo!" and a Piper giggle. Stephen likes to climb in and make her laugh (and, admittedly, sometimes he likes to bring all his toys and blankets into the crib and frustrate her even more.)
He loves playing and working outside with Peter. He often reminds me, "Me hard-work man, like Daddy." He says he wants to be a daddy when he grows up, and modern kids just don't usually dream of starting their own families someday.
He takes things very literally. I might call him "Little Bug" and he will say, "No call me bug. Me boy. Me called Stephen."
Several months ago there were a couple weeks in which every day after putting Piper down for her nap, I would find Stephen in a corner somewhere, fork in hand, eating ice cream from the carton. After enough discipline he finally realized that this was very wrong, and even now he remorsefully brings it up sometimes. Once I told Stephen, "I'm sorry I spent so much time on my phone today," to which he replied, "Me sorry me stole ice cream." The other day he told Peter, "Me want learn more about God [because] me stole ice cream." This issue of stolen ice cream seems to have seared on his heart the fact that he is a sinner. He teaches us so much.
Stephen has really helped to unite Peter and I and has helped stir our affections for each other. We love comparing things he's said and we're helped by sharing with each other what we've said to him, whether it's how we explained a heart issue or the latest crazy story we made up to distract him from getting carsick.
I'm so happy that Stephen still loves for us to read to him. I like to drop off the last word of each sentence when I'm reading a familiar book so he can fill in the blanks. Our absolute favorite books are Richard Scarry's Bedtime Stories, God's Great Plan by Melissa Cutrera, our Dr. Seuss collection (particularly The Sneetches), mostly everything by Bill Peet, and, of course, anything involving firetrucks or construction vehicles.