Simon has a Chinese name! It was given to him by his Aunt Joy. She was inspired by this post that I recently made on Facebook:
“During various sessions at the playground yesterday, my kid sweet-talked three nannies into giving him the food they’d prepared for their own charges (whole banana, handful of crackers, half an apple–cubed); carjacked two kids’ scooters while they were distracted; and managed to convince another little girl to trade all her toys for his one rubber ball. Future career: hustler.”
His new name is 小骗子, Xiao Piànzi . Little hustler. Little trickster. Scoundrel. Rascal. Scamp.
Anyone with a really keen eye might recognize the first symbol in his name. 小 means “small.”
骗 子is an absolute bear of a word to draw. It means “swindler” or “hustler” and specifically implies someone who acts with trickery, as opposed to a thief. We’ve fully embraced it.
When I introduce Simon to someone and tell them his Chinese name, the response comes in two phases. The first is confusion, because my pronunciation is awful and it takes a second for Chinese to process that a Westerner is speaking Mandarin. Then, the realization and the laughing, as if they’ve just gotten the punchline to a joke. And they have, because at that moment Simon is holding in his hands: their keys. Their cellphone. A pencil. A box of breath mints. Their child’s favorite toy. You name it, he has charmed them out of their possessions before they even realized who they were dealing with.