I believe, when my aunt labeled the Wee Niblet “irrepressible,” that she saved me at least twenty-three minutes of racking my brain to find the most apropos adjective for the little nutter. Indeed, without her astute assessment of him, I might have thoughtlessly described the lad as merely “zestful” or “bubbling.”
What a mistake that would have been, for he and his occasional mohawk efortlessly infuse twelve thousand bubbles, with small lungs and a twisty straw, into piles of unsuspecting zest, shake them to the tune of a mambo, stir the concoction with Mad Maxian vigor, and top it all off with an olive (or rather, ten of them, pitted, each waggling on the tip of a grubby finger).
Niblet is four. Niblet has remarkable mojo.
It is rising.
Placing a call on his hot dog phone
His days begin when he rolls into our bedroom, climbs into the parental bed, and starts kneading my belly, elbow skin, and neck folds (there are no greater expressions of affection from this tactile preschooler). After a bit of a cuddle, he’s ready to “watch,” a half-hour that has him singing and dancing in front of the tv…unless his watching gets derailed by a pick-up round of “Animal School” with his Girl sister. When they play Animal School, she teaches; naturally, he is a student and sits in his assigned place among the penguins, unicorns, bats, and gorillas. So effortless is his popularity that he may run for Animal School Council (they need a new treasurer).
As he watches or plays, Der Niblet munches on his breakfast of beef jerky, pickles, and/or croutons. By 9 a.m., his visionary and entrepreneurial spirit has awakened, and we find ourselves making helmets that are half-alien, half-dinosaur. Generally, the purpose of the helmet is not specifically revealed, but we’re amenable to pitching in because participating in the process means that we have license to make a whole lot of googly eyes and antennae–honest work that keeps us out of the meth lab. Plus, he needs an assist with the hot glue gun.
In between projects, there is some dabbling with chess, playing Camel Poop Care Bears with the neighbor girl, organizing his Pokemon binder, breaking eggs for the pizza dough, and cutting up National Geographic magazines. At some point during this agenda, The Boy Hurricane either makes a case for it being a pajama day or for wearing tights, a sportcoat, and a Frankenstein tie.
Best of all, while his given name is fairly unique in the U.S., setting him apart in any classroom or puke-ridden ball pit, he finds it unsatisfactory. Several months ago, as Niblet sat in his sweat lodge, toying with his ceremonial pipe, a new name delivered itself to our chap, a name that he, in turn, revealed to us. It is his true name, he maintains, and it should be the only one we use to address him.
It is Dinko.
Certainly, I slip up. Sometimes my mistakes slide by; sometimes I am quietly but firmly reminded of his Dinko-ishness. Sometimes he’d like to reprimand me for being so absent/neglectful/audacious as to not recall my own son’s name.
But then he spots his little sewing machine or a bag of magnets across the room, and he’s gone. I am temporarily off the Dinko hook.
Of course, when he trips up to me, three minutes later, holding a pop-up book about King Tutankhamun in hand, I’m back in the hot (glue gun) seat. You see, Dinko is adamant about the pronuciation of that dead pharaoh’s name, and when I read it with its traditional inflection, the boy grounds me with a glare and an exasperated: “Maw-om, it’s Too-kin-ham!”
Quickly forgiven once I apologize and practice, I am then invited over to his ever-evolving diarama of King Too-kin-ham’s barge, where my finer motor controls are required–to tape in a few new loaves of bread and storage barrels. The whole thing is made out of grocery bags, chopsticks, and unfettered whimsy.
Dinko’s days are full; he has many departments, from barges to monster-making, that require constant attention.
Frankly, we can’t figure out from whence all this zany caprice stems.
Although the origins of his character are murky, it is clear that Dinko is a one-man goof troupe.
This, I believe.
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