Excuse me? Are you Listening? 9-3
Thursday, February 25, 2010

 Dear Readers,

It was a snow day and a day off for the Risper children, Anissa, 8 and Amir, 7.  Usually on snow days, along with old fashioned shoveling, I get this feeling that I just want to dig through my cabinets and find some thing to whip up in the kitchen from scratch.  I just want to go back to a time when things were simple when it is snowing.
On this particular day, the snow was about 10 inches high.  I have learned that I should not even complain about the snow any more.  I should just embrace it.  I should use it to my benefit.  Well the health benefit of shoveling, is what I am talking about.  I have a corner lot so it seems like this vast snowy tundra when I first walk out the door. 
My neighbor, Keith Goins, is such an amazing young man.  He plowed the entire corner with his snowblower and had done so several times before.  I was pleased.  The children were still asleep when I started.  However, one half hour into the snow crunches that I was doing to work on my abdominals (laughter), I could see little fingers pulling the blinds down.  It is the space they always go to when they want to peek outside.  The blind slats are a bit folded back and it seems each year the blind gets more bent slats.
It was time to feed the children.  In my mind, we were making pancakes.  I had all of my shoveling time to think about it.  The mailman, Bill, comes early and I wanted to clear the way for him before I started cooking.  I was finished with half of what was left of the shoveling and took a break.
By the time I took my coat off, gave hugs and washed hands they were dragging chairs to help with the ingredients.  I pulled out the Betty Crocker book and thought to myself I should know this pancake recipe by heart as the tattered page fell out of the book. 
While searching for the baking powder, I heard Anissa tell Amir to get the bananas.  Whoa, I wasn’t planning on making gourmet pancakes.  I had just worked out for 30 minutes.  Anissa peeled them and mashed them and then told Amir that if he were to eat the browning bananas by themselves his breath would surely smell really bad.  I giggled but not too loud.  I have noticed they are getting pretty sensitive.
We cooked and it was their responsibility to clean up the kitchen.  I tripled the recipe so they would have pancakes for the next morning.  I wrapped the leftovers in Saran Wrap and put the plate in the refrigerator and went into my office. 
Winter is Harsh in Massachusetts
I could hear Anissa giving bossy directions as they loaded the dishwasher.  Then there was silence for a few seconds.  When that happens there is bound to be something that has happened out of the ordinary.
In a very concerned voice Anissa said, “Amir, you must promise me something.  Together we must warn Mommy to never go to never go to Massachusetts because Democrats are being beaten there.”
I was in shock.  I thought what does the Massachusetts election have to do with me?  In a split second I thought maybe she saw something on television about Massachusetts during the Civil Rights Movement.
She then whispered loudly, “Mommy told me that she was a registered Democrat.  Do you think that the people from Massachusetts will come to beat her?”
I started laughing and called her into my office and she began to weep.  I thought this is not that serious but I could not stop laughing and she could not stop crying. 
I asked her where she got the idea that someone was going to beat me.  She ran upstairs, returned and handed me a piece of paper that on one side read in big bold letters, “Please READ this urgent update.”
It was an insert from The Nation magazine, which is American’s oldest weekly, and considered as a premier journal of opinion.  It was founded by abolitionists in 1865 to foster frank dialogue to heal a divided country. 
On the other side it read:
“From the desk of Katrina vanden Heuvel , (the editor, part-owner, and publisher of The Nation”  – As we went to press on this mailing we got a trifecta of awful news:
-   Democrats were beaten in Massachusetts.
-   President Obama lost his 60-vote majority in the Senate.
-  The Supreme Court – in a fundamental assault on our democracy – ruled that corporations can spend freely to influence election.  This represents the most aggressive intervention in politics since Bush v. Gore.
The hope of reshaping the prevailing order of our politics and economy... In times like these it’s clear why independent journalism is so important.  Now more than ever you need The Nation.  Please consider a subscription.”
I wiped her tears and informed her that no one was physically beaten in Massachusetts and that it was a political race.  I explain that Edward Kennedy who was a Democrat held the seat for 47 years but when he died a Republican Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate seat, so he beat Martha Coakley, who is a Democrat.  I further explained that it is like a foot race and whoever get to the finish line wins but the person who lost was beaten.
She said, “Oh, 47 years is a long time.”  As she asked me what Edward Kennedy died of, I drifted off to a place that I had never been.
At that moment it was not so funny as I could only imagine the images of people being beaten and sprayed by water hoses.   Those images of history are frightening for adults, I can’t even image what it is like for children. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to not be served in a restaurant.   The flashing  image of Martin Luther King, Jr’s daughter in a church pew with her mother during his funeral kept coming to mind.
I had forgotten or maybe I had not.  Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed on April 4, 1968, which also happens to be my daughter’s birthday.
I asked Anissa if she was all right.  By then she was staring at a bag of  Sour then Sweet Sour Patch Chillerz Soft & Chewy Candy that I confiscated from her the night before.  I handed her a few and her face lit up and the candy seemed to have melted away all of her sorrow.
On the way out of my office, she quickly turned around and said, “Don’t worry Mommy if anyone would ever try to beat you, I would come to your rescue.”
That touched me on so many levels… and I realized there was never really a time when things were simple.
Rina Risper

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