This spring my son hinked my boozle.
After an episode of Curious George, he sauntered up to me and gave me a probing glance. In an instant, his hands leaped up to my bosom. “Hink! Hink!” he exclaimed as he honked my motherly bits.
I gasped in surprise. “It is not okay to hink mama.”
I lectured him on boundaries, explaining that a woman’s bosom is for feeding babies.
Our conversation devolved into an anxious personal space inquisition. My son wanted diagrams detailing a child’s age and allowable “hinking.” Our afternoon of graph making closed with chalk driveway charts. Local dog walkers lingered during their peregrinations for days.
Our afternoon of social instruction left me feeling victorious. Appropriateness is a difficult lesson for autistic individuals, especially young autistic individuals.
A few weeks later, I chatted with Liev’s case manager, Crystalyn. She asked me, “What is a boozle?”
Perplexed, I questioned her until it became clear that “boozle” was his mispronunciation of “bosom.”
Liev had been annoying teachers with his “hinks.” I explained the situation and told her my strategy was to ignore him and redirect him to shoulder squeezing.
Sporadic outbreaks of boozle hinking peppered the remainder of the school year. Liev hinked most when he felt ill. I could gauge a fever by hinks per hour.
Summer vacation detonated the atom bomb of boozle hinks. My son became a tiny, diabolical Benny Hill. His twitchy, pinchy fingers bedeviled me so much I expected to hear Yackety Sax on a loop in the background.
The fact that my usual tricks failed shocked me. I asked for advice and tried new methods. Every intervention failed or only worked for a single day. I did not understand what I was missing.
Eventually, my husband and I concluded that Liev was trapped in a “hinking loop.” Anxious about summer changes, Liev became obsessed with hinking. Squeezing or poking me relieved an internal pressure. Even though he had firm and consistent consequences, with enough anxiety he’d hink until his fingers dropped off.
I needed to be patient, ignore, and re-direct. I gritted my teeth, nevertheless.
Weeks flitted by and hinking diminished as our summer schedule became routine.
Then one day, my husband took Liev out to pick flowers. Egor helped Liev fill a plastic shoebox with daisies. With abundant joy, Liev presented them to me. “Oh!” I gasped. “What lovely flowers! You are the sweetest little boy on the planet!” I extended my arms for a hug. Liev took three ecstatic hops toward me and poked my bosom. “Hink! Hink!” he said sweetly and hugged me.
My husband and I laughed aloud. A loving glow shined in Liev’s eyes. His hinks were indeed neurological hiccups, pint-size impulsive bursts of energy generated by a brain completely thrilled and overloaded by giving his Mama flowers.
Digital elements by Sherrie Drumond. Benny Hill is from “The Ultimate Benny Hill Album.”