We named Nicholas after a windmill builder and a 19th century cowboy. My great grandfather emigrated from a small town outside Rome to Argentina during the first World War. He built windmills, the rotating blades entangling the wind like boleadoras. Scott is The Mister’s great, great grandfather, a South Western cowboy known in regional history books for making the West that much wilder. Had we known our Nicholas would take on the spirited, Don Quixotic personality of his namesakes, we might have named Stanley and expected a taciturn child who could do our taxes.
Instead, we have a child who scales pantry shelves in search of hidden cereal bars. His knees are scarred from countless falls, many of which we don’t remember. He loves to get wet. He loves to chase and be chased. And he loves whatever his big brother loves more than anything else, which is why we house more dinosaurs than the Museum of Natural History.
Nicholas busted his lip, again, almost two weeks ago. He was chasing Mikey around the sofa, or maybe Mikey was chasing him. Either way, the end result is that his empanada feet tangled themselves up in a knot, pitching him flat his chin.
Then again, he might have slipped. I had just finished washing his dinner off his feet because 10 minutes before he split his lip he choked on an aggressive bite of noodles. The gurgled choking sound is what caught our attention because you are never actually paying attention when your child is choking. No, they wait until you are not looking to challenge the laws of physics and anatomy. So Nicholas gagged and gurgled and turned red, and right when we were starting to get nervous, right when I asked The Mister in a voice just short of shrill is he alright?, that is when Nico’s throat muscled back up and out the air stealing plate of noodles.
I looked at The Mister standing in a pile of regurgitated noodles and said, “Well, he’s alright now.”
The Mister looked down at his soiled house shoes and said, “Yeah, he’s alright now.”
So Nicholas may have slipped on feet damp from his Silkwood wet down. The Mister, having not witnessed first hand the blood that spurts from a toddler’s split lip, spent a few minutes loudly voicing his displeasure with boys who run in the house while at the same time deforesting most of South America with the number of paper towels in his trembling hands. Paper towels I could have told him, had he given me a word in edgewise, that Nicholas would turn to confetti if he was fool enough to bring them within grabbing distance.
Sure enough, Nicholas had the kitchen looking like the morning after a parade within minutes. But not even a frazzled The Mister could resist the way his fat lip gave him a sweet, oafish smile like Lennie from Mice and Men. The next morning Nicholas woke up with the same fat lip and happy disposition. And, since a no one ever starved from a fat lip, Nicholas managed to find the box of Oreos I had hidden in the pantry and ate two before I was the wiser. The cookies under the nails are what gave him away. That goofy smile is what got him two more cookies.