As I may have mentioned before, our youngest son is something of a challenge most of the time.

The terrible twos was something of a mystery to us when our older two children were in that age range. But we truly got introduced to the concept by our younger daughter, who seemed at the time to be making up for the good behavior of her older brother and sister. She was, and remains at times, an extremely willful child. However, she's become positively delightful over time.

Our youngest seems to have followed in his sister's footsteps. He's probably more difficult in some ways than she was, but we're starting to see (we hope) the light at the end of that tunnel.

Earlier this afternoon, I'm working at the computer when he rushes up the steps from the basement to the kitchen. It's clear that he's on a mission.

"I'm sneaking your candy."

What are you doing?

"I'm sneaking your candy." He gets a chair and slides it up to the kitchen counter. It's obvious he knows where the good Christmas-stocking candy is kept.

Nearly incapacitated with laughter, I glance at my wife in disbelief. At her urging, I compose myself to rein him in.

So I correct him over violent protest. I let him know he isn't allowed to take what's not his without permission, and further that he isn't allowed to climb on the counter. I wouldn't need to tell the older kids this, but since he's only a day away from his third birthday, I tell him also that it technically isn't sneaking if he announces it.

For my trouble, I get a swat on the side of my head. He gets a brief time-out until he's prepared to apologize, which invariably comes, but not yet. He sulks, cries, and stops to return briefly to the basement.

"Guys," he hollers down to his siblings, the Instigators, "Dad says no candy." He climbs all the way down the steps, and I'm still listening, wondering what he's going to do next.

He returns in a moment, and enters the living room to talk to his mom. He sees me out of the corner of his eye and says with a hint (perhaps) of remorse, "Sorry, Dad."

"What are you sorry for?" she asks.

"Sorry I took the candy."

He turns three tomorrow, and the terrible twos... Well, I'm sure they're not gone, but their time is running short.