Flashback: 2007 Excuse me, are you listening? 20-7

Rina Risper, President & Publisher of The New Citizens Press (Pandemic photo 2020)

Dear Readers,

I cannot tell you how I feel while watching the news and what is happening to innocent Black males. I called my son, Amir, who is 19 years old just to hear his voice and he did not pick up. I felt a surge of panic and thought, “He should be home by now.” I called again an hour later and he picked up and told me that he had taken a nap. While reading the daily news, I get very apprehensive about having children who look like the Black adult men and boys who have been killed by law enforcement. My disclaimer is that my father was a police officer and it is very hard to see this happening. I wonder what he would think about all of this.

It is printed in its entirety:

Excuse me are you listening? 6-8
Sunday, May 17, 2007

Dear Readers,

As it is Mother’s Day, I thought why not write about being a mother. It’s a time to give thanks and to recognize that the gift is primarily found in the ones who you have brought into the world.

I don’t mess around when it comes to giving gifts. It has become so commercialized. For Mother’s Day, I asked to have my basement cleaned up. To me that is worth three diamond necklaces because ultimately it will have to be done why not use the day to organize an area that has become unorganized during a cold miserable winter.

My miracles, who are my children, still cause me growing pains and immeasurable amounts of joy. But sometimes, I wish mothers received an additional bonus check for the days that things don’t go smoothly and we somehow make it all work.

The Risper household is no different than most. After waking up one recent morning, I was sure it was going to be “one of those” days. You know the kind of day when you have to deal with nonsense from adults and craziness from children.

Rushing to get to a morning appointment, I just knew that I should have been watching the lunch bag. The lunch bag that belongs to Amir, the 4 year old. He’s like an old man. He likes his sandwiches prepared a certain way and will send his sandwich back if it’s not cut down the middle. Before he gives it back to you he’ll raise his voice just a little and say, “Guess what Mommy, umm Mommy, guess what? You didn’t cut my sandwich.”

I wonder what he’d do if he found out I didn’t cut his sandwich until after he got to school.

With that thought, the phone rang, while I was looking for my other shoe. The other shoe could be anywhere. I vaguely remember Anissa, my daughter saying, “Look Mommy, I can almost fit in your shoes…” I just couldn’t remember exactly where I was or was it that I could not remember period. Even if I did remember, we have a “if you see it put it away policy” that is because you may never see it again. I panicked … could my shoe is the bottomless toybox? Or maybe it got swept away with the 20 loads of laundry that are done each week?

I’m still on the phone hopping around trying to find my shoe. I’m a little worried about not finding my shoe, because if I can’t find it, then I’ll have to change my outfit.

Amir’s second request came at a more feverish pitch. Of course now that I’m on the phone he knew this was his chance.

“Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, you didn’t cut my sandwich and you said that you would,” he said it with such irritation that I had to do a double take to make sure that he hadn’t morphed into a 65-year old man. His hands were in his pockets.I gave him my “don’t talk to me while I am on the phone look.”

He put his hands on his hips and walked away with his head hanging down and brooding eyes. I could hear the aluminum foil rustling that I had carefully wrapped his peanut butter and jelly sandwich with. Since Amir started pre-school, he only eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.

I didn’t want to be shocked at what I would find. Since I didn’t hear any drawers open, sharp objects weren’t a worry. Then it was quiet…

I finished my phone conversation and found my shoe. It had become a holder for a chain of paperclips that Anissa strung together. There were tiny pieces of paper in it too. I couldn’t believe that I found the shoe so quickly. I was just grateful that there wasn’t glue in it. We’re going through a “glue and cut pieces of paper phase” with Anissa. I was ready. Amir was ready and the preschool bus was going to arrive in five minutes.

My sweet Amir had decided that since I didn’t cut his sandwich that he was going to rip it in two pieces. I guess that was too much temptation for him. His face was covered in peanut butter and jelly. So was his white uniform shirt. He smiled at me mischievously with his “you-should’ve-come-faster-then-you-wouldn’t-be-stressed-about-this-jelly-on-my-shirt” look.

Knowing Amir, I had another shirt pressed for him. I smiled and said, “You may think that you have won this battle but I’m one step ahead.” I made him another sandwich and showed him how to cut it with a plastic knife. He made it on the bus and I made it to my appointment.

In a week’s time, he was cutting his own sandwiches. I’m waiting for the day when he learns how to wash, dry and put away dishes. But for now, I’m pleased with the little steps. I’m so enthralled by motherhood and of all of the things I’ve experienced. It has been one of the most transformative times. For all of the mothers and surrogate mothers, I wish you blessings and courage on your journey through the challenges of motherhood.

Sincerely,

Rina Risper

PS Love people and celebrate life always. I am so happy that I can go back and reprint the stories that made me who I am.