Flashback: 2014 Excuse me, are you listening?

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

Dear Readers,

My children have grown up with the newspaper in their lives.  Anissa is a sophomore at Western Michigan University and she turns 20 years old on April 4th.  I cannot begin to tell you what a blessing she has been in my life. I love her dearly and I could not be prouder of her and all of her accomplishments in life.  This story was written when she was 13.  It was such a strange time.  However, I am learning a lot by re-reading my old articles and printing them.  I am so happy that I have been able to document some of my life. Happy Birthday Anissa! 

It is printed in its entirety:

Excuse me are you listening? 13-24
Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dear Readers,

There has been shift in my consciousness.  I am a mother of a teenager.  When I started the paper, Anissa was a baby.  She no longer wants to hear the stories about how funny she was or that she used to steal her brother’s food.

She would feed him and say, “One for you, and three for me.”

The other day I heard her tell the 12-year-old, Amir that he is 1 year, 4 months, 15 days, 4 hours and 39 minutes younger than she is.   Her reason for telling him that was to assert herself as the older sibling.   I really cannot make this up.  They keep me in stitches.

Anissa is now a teenager!  She is 13.  Where did the time go?  She  has her own taste.  She likes clothes that I do not.  She wears her hair differently than I would like.  However, she is a trustworthy honors student and I appreciate that.

When we go to the store and I look at little baby dresses, she just rolls her eyes and states, “I am not a baby anymore.”

Yes, I understand that children grow up but does it have to be so painful.  Not painful for her but for me.  I find myself tearing up at times when I hear her on the phone laughing with her friends or when I realize that she has made a decision that is quite the surprise, like trying out for the volleyball team or choosing to listen to bands.  I found out about the bands when we were walking by Hot Topic and she asked for a Pierce the Veil and Sleeping with Sirens t-shirt.  My eyebrows immediately went up but I listened to bands like Fleetwood Mac and Journey.  I even listened to Motley Crue and Skid Row.  Most of my teenage years were spent on Long Island during Generation X’s big hair days.  Listening to all genres of music was normal.

A few months ago, I wanted to go to a meeting at the school for Anissa to go to Washington D.C.  and she told me that she did not want to go and would prefer to go to a concert instead.  She advised me quite matter-of-factly that it would be cheaper and two of her favorite bands were playing.  After that, she would talk about the concert all the time.  From September to October it was non-stop.

I went online and listened to the music.  There was no way in the world I was going to any concert to listen to those bands.   I would have been such a downer. 

Anissa asked her grandmother to go with her and Grammy said yes.  Even though she never flies to Michigan during the winter she flew in on November 28, 2014, Black Friday, to take Anissa to the concert the following Sunday.  I even let her wear eyeliner and mascara.  I got misty watching her apply her makeup.

I thought of this as an experiment in generational relationships.  Will Grammy make it?  Well, Grammy did make it.  Not only did she make it but she did not complain about the noise.  They were two of a handful of Black people there out of hundreds.  Grammy drove uncharted territory  because she lives in Georgia (she said the driving was the worst part).  Equipped with ear plugs she sat through the concert while people thrashed in the mosh pit, others body surfed and some did some serious head banging.

Grammy kept her cool.  It was an experience for her.  What was even more incredible was that the concert started at 1:00 pm and they returned home by 11:30 pm.  There were 9 bands and 50 years between them.

My experiment with love and trust bonded a relationship between a granddaughter and her grandmother. Priceless.

Love people,

Rina Risper

This column was printed in the December 14, 2014 – December 27, 2014 edition.

P.S. The band she went  to see was Sleeping with Sirens.