"There is NOTHING you can do that will make you stop being my Sweetie!"
Of course, our mischievous Rof takes this as a personal challenge and tries her best to aggravate him, just to ask, "Am I still your Sweetie?" He growls and sighs, "Yes, you are still my Sweetie."
So, in view of her tests, he has developed a Sweetie-number system through which he tracks our standings. Therefore, she can remain his Sweetie while suffering a decline in Sweetie-number as a result of her irritations.
For a while, my Sweetie-number was always 16, while Sophie's was 100. However, from school he's recently developed a better grasp of higher numbers, so my Sweetie-number is now usually somewhere around 10 to the 12th power, or in Will's words "One, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero...".
Tonight at dinner we had a small conflict as a result of him being rude and demanding. As I scolded him, Will's countenance (as it often does) transformed immediately from intolerant despot to injured victim, complete with tears.
Tonight we were back on good terms and I was getting ready to leave his bedroom. (When it's my turn to get them to bed, after reading and prayers, I put Sophie to bed and come back to say goodnight. And each night, he asks me, "Do you have anything you want to say?" and I tell him I love him or I'm so glad God gave him to me or something similar. Then he'll say, "We're starting the New Usual**." We lay in silence for a few moments, then I say goodnight and leave.)
This time, for the first time ever, after I'd made my final statement of love and pride, Will said, "Well, I have something to say. Even though I was disappointed in you tonight, I don't want you to think it changed your Sweetie-number."
** The New Usual became effective when Sophie got old enough to require extra attention at bedtime, and I explained to Will that I could no longer stay "the usual amount" of time with him at night. "There's going to have to be a 'new usual'", I explained then. Since then, the New Usual has come to symbolize a few moments of silent companionship just before bed. There is no talking allowed. In fact, even [my apparently] loud breathing is discouraged.