The Kid Amazing


It was on this day, March 8th, ten years ago, that our fourth child, our fourth son, was brought forth into our lives (i.e., mama did a lotta pushin’).

Chelsea wanted to name him something short and sweet, and Papa preferred something long(er) and wholly unique. So, we did what all good marriages must do - we compromised.

Legend has it that we solicited ideas from the family and one day, after being inspired by a 1989-2000 study that I read, which found that 30% of African-American girls in the State of California had wholly unique first names (i.e., no one else in the state had the exact same name), I decided to ask the oldest, Enzo, who was going on 13 and at the end of middle school, if he had any suggestions.

He often mentioned classmates whose names I could never remember, so I thought this brilliant-and-budding rebel might be able to offer us a gem or two.

As expected, he did, and we absolutely loved it. Without skipping a beat, he jokingly suggested- “Zesty Lemons.” I shared it with my expectant wife and we toyed with it a bit, thinking we could close the loop and spell it “Zesty Lemonz.”

Giddy, I told my mom, Delia, and she went absolutely nutz. Seriously, mama wouldn’t have none of that, and I got an ear full, which made me rethink our choice, realizing that albeit vibrant as it was, it was also too tart for some, and it wasn’t what we were going to ultimately ink into the birth certificate.

Undaunted, we toyed around with other names, all of which I’ve forgotten now, but I do recall we went through the gamut.

Ultimately, two names did stick.

First, despite my mother’s protest and Enzo’s cheeky intent, we couldn’t get “Zesty” out of our heads, so it stuck right dab in the middle of our brainstorm of options.

Second, when we got to the “M”s on the list, my wife really liked “Milo.” I liked it too, but needed to stretch it out a bit to befit the notion and expectation and hope that this kid would turn out to be one-of-a-kind, special, just like each of his brothers that came before him.

Another name that was on the top of my list was “Amadeus,” after Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, best known to us as WAM or Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of my favorite composers and the ilk of an artistic wunderkind that I was hoping our newborn would be destined to be.

An interesting note on the naming of Mozart is that although his Catholic baptismal record states his five-part birth name, throughout his short lifetime he would use several different names, depending on context and whichever of the many languages he spoke and was speaking.

Likewise fascinating is that his Latin name “Chrysostomus” means “golden mouth,” in German “Wolfgang” means “walks with wolves,” and “Theophilus” is derived from Greek and means “loved by God,” and translated it into Latin gives us “Amadeus.”

That said, this epic name was not only the title of the amazing 8-Oscar winning movie about him, but it was a name that was primarily applied posthumously, because the boy wonder himself preferred using the Italian and French equivalents, Amadè and Amadé, for much of his life after his 21st birthday in 1777.

Hence, inspired by this musical prodigy and Enzo’s playful, albeit flippant, suggestion; and likewise inspired by the iconic and reverent suffix of Wolfgang’s middle name - “Deus” - which in Latin, means “God”, I had a brilliant stroke of genius, a bold blitz of creativity, and I suggested, “How about ‘Milodeus?’”

To me, it would mean “Milo ‘ of God’ or ‘we are blessed to have you, my child, thank you, God.’”

Moreover, to seal the deal, I suggested “How about we add a twist, a lemon twist to be exact, and make his middle name ‘Zesty’?”

Together, we really liked “Milodeus Zesty,” but something was still slightly off.

After toying with it a bit, we determined that it was simply a matter of changing the “y” to an “i,” which would mirror his last name to be. In turn, it would be the perfect middle nom, in a unique, almost-alliterative sense.

Hence, on this day in 2012, “Milodeus Zesti Dominguez” came into this wonderful world. And, I have not stopped beaming since day one.

Our little fella is a big boy now who has lived up to his name in so many awesome ways. Indeed, he is the kid amaZing.

Proudly, unabashedly, I boast that during this past week he won the Blitz Chess Tournament at Turquoise Trail Charter School, beating out 30 other kids who ranged from third to eight grade. His sister, who also participates in the chess club, if only to support him, says “the middle schoolers are afraid to play him,” our bodacious fourth grader.

Along these lines, I love his competitive streak. He’s been playing chess since he was four and he never lets up. Despite losing to his dad most of the time, the losses merely spur his resilience to try and try again.

Any time he gets upset when I declare “checkmate,” I remind him that he is on a track to unbeatable greatness, “Son, you’re nine, I’m 53, and in two years tops I’m going to be constantly licking my wounds, because I fully expect that there will come a day when I will never beat you again.”

And to abet this prophecy, for his birthday we got him the digital chess clock he’s been asking for, as well as a book to fulfill my self-fulfilling demise, “HOW TO BEAT YOUR DAD AT CHESS,” written by chess Grandmaster Murray Chandler, who not only finished second in the World Cadet Championship in 1976, but also ahead of the legendary Garry Kasparov, who he defeated in their individual game.

Milodeus “Milo” is also our family’s comedian. Funny and bold as his middle name, he’s often making me laugh and making strange faces whenever I want him to be serious for a picture.

I also appreciate that he is a fan of “efficiency and order.” Perhaps, because much like his father was at his age, he keeps things tidy. When the kids were due to be out of school all week because of our Covid-quarantine, he diligently worked on his homework for a few non-stop hours each day without any prompting, and was done for the week by 10 PM Tuesday.

Likewise, for better or for worse, he’s often bossing his sister around, telling her to fall in line, which is why I fully expect him to be the Senate Majority Whip someday (and his little sister to be President).

Moreover, much like his brother, Dominic, he is kind, thoughtful and compassionate. I believe someday he will end up giving the shirt off his back to someone in need, and indeed, he will fulfill our family’s tradition of being of service to our community in indubitably some special way.

Finally, I will add that one of his qualities that I admire the most is that he is unabashedly affectionate. Every single night, as I am putting him to bed, without fail and for as long as I can remember, we have a hamster-wheel battle of words that always ends with me simply shutting the door:

“Papa…” (purposeful pause)

“Yes, Milo?”

“I love you more than you love me.”

“Mijo, that’s ‘imposible’”

“No, Papa, I do.”

“You’ve had a long day, you’re tired and you're delirious son, now go to sleep.”

“Papa…” (click)

Happy Birthday Milo, Milodeus Zesti Dominguez, Papa Loves You More.