All smiles: William Hubbell (left) and Amir Risper (right) were both on the Capitol steps in Lansing, MI to celebrate their birthdays on Thursday, July 19, 2012 during Poetry in the City. Fifty-five years separated them as Rosemarie "One Single Rose" Wilson sang her own rendition of "Happy Birthday" to them in the pouring rain. The other thing they had in common was the opportunity to have 100 people sing to them. TNCP photo
Turning A Decade...
Weeks before Amir's birthday, he was excited and had to count down each morning after he woke up. I felt as though he were anticipating the New Year.
Smiling broadly seconds after waking up he would announce how many days it was before his birthday. I found this odd because he was usually somber and quiet. He is my youngest and has a quite interesting way of perceiving things. He is independent, yet he does not mind when others do his chores for him. He moves as slow as molasses when he is preoccupied. I mean sloth slow. When you cannot take anymore and decide to just do it yourself, he used to readily relinquish his household duties. Recently, he has been jumping in to help clean, sweep and wipe down counters. It was definitely mindbending.
I decided to have a real conversation with him. I mean, he is my baby so usually I talk to him through my other two children and he just listens intently while batting his eyes without saying much. I asked him what was going on and why he was so excited about this birthday.
Amir said, "One thing is that I am older. I am becoming mature. The older you get, you learn more things."
I do not know why but I was totally shocked and I giggled and said, "Oh, really and when did this all happen?"
He replied, "Well, I am learning to be my best by watching you and Daddy. I think my parents are role models. Because I know if I misbehave something bad is going happen. Being responsible is my last name slash Risper. R stands for responsible. Anissa (his 11-year-old sister) is responsible too even though she gets on my nerves... "
I had a flashback to Anissa at 2-years-old feeding her little brother and running to go get diapers, baby oil, powder and anything else I needed. I starting laughing out loud about one time when she was supposed to be feeding him and she took four spoonfuls to every two of his spoonfuls. Each day I have to remind them not to argue with each other because I want them to always be able to rely on each other. It is actually working. Besides they have a much older brother, Gianni, who no longer lives at home to torment them when he comes over.
To my surprise, Amir interrupted my daydream and continued speaking without prompting, "When you turn 10, you are a decade and your birthday becomes your grandest day. Being 10 is going to be so awesome.... so I am not getting bored as much. Things are not as serious. Now that I am older the people who used to mess with me no longer do."
I recalled how difficult it was in the beginning of the 2011 school year for Amir. It seemed as though each day it was something different. My heart would ache each day as I read his face prior to him walking through the door. Most of the time, it was stressed.
He would always tell me about how so and so was bothering him or how some other daily school activity irritated him almost to tears. Towards the end of the school year, I noticed that he was becoming more comfortable in his skin. He is just such a good boy and believes that people should do the right thing. How could I tell him that some people do not treat others right?
Amir happily while matter-of-factly shrugging his shoulders and said, "I am sensitive. I don't like being around people. I like being around people like you. You have to spend time with yourself in order to know yourself. Yes, I am going to be a sensitive 10-year-old. That is just who I am."
I could not contain myself and I started to count his words. I realized that I was having a conversation with my child who usually shrugs his shoulders and says, "I don't know."
I really began to focus and tried to get rid of the cheesy grin that had been plastered across my face. It was kind of stuck there. I was so amazed that I was having this conversation. I love when little people amaze me. I blinked a couple of times to focus better. I asked myself, "Is this my child?"
He went on to tell me his ideas on how to deal with being sensitive, "The one thing I learned this year is not to be by yourself if you feel like others do not like you. They have to know someone else cares and not everyone wants to bully them. I am a one of a kind person. Being the youngest, I feel pretty confident about it."
I blinked again as he rambled on, "At school, I am one of the best readers. I am good at science and social studies but I need to work on my math. I do not like being yelled at. I wish that people would stop yelling and calm down. I know that the adult is frustrated but give the child a chance to fix it. If you yell at a sensitive child it takes them longer to calm down and do better."
I could feel my 'dang I am a good mom' pride dancing in my stomach like happy little butterflies on a bright spring day.
Amir continued, "If you are sensitive spend a lot of time with your father or a family member who loves you. Please don't sit by yourself and think about being alone. So just hang in there! I have a good life with three or four friends and that is all you need. Besides with a best friend like Daddy, I don't need anyone else."
My little butterflies seemed to stand still as I thought selfishly, "Hey, what about me? What am I chopped liver? I am the one who breastfed you and labored for hours to have you!"
Amir said, "I would like my nickname to be "Mr. Sensitive" even though I am working on it."
I smiled and thought to myself, "I understand Amir! I am happy that you are turning a decade, I learned something about myself that I already knew but not to such a simple extent. I am "Mrs. Sensitive" and "Mrs. Selfish" because I was not fully aware of how important your father really is to you."
In one split second, I had a epiphany. As usual, Amir, was already looking at me with a half smile with his hands out with a 'what are you thinking about Mommy' look on his face.
As if he knew what I was thinking he said, "Mommy, you are great too. A child just needs his father more. It is just my opinion. Mothers do a lot of work but having my dad is the gift of the decade."
The longest conversation that I had with my youngest son was over and I could not wait to tell Frank Risper all about it. When I did, he chuckled and said, "Well, he is my best friend too. I think we had him just for me."
Two peas in a pod.
Indeed, we cannot claim all of a child's love and should be 100% happy with what we receive and return 100% back with no questions asked. Now that is an gift for the decade
This was printed in the August 12, 2012 -August 25, 2012 Edition