Finding Ismail

Finding Ismail

Everyone goes through that pre-teen/teenager 
search time in his or her life. Some earlier than 
others. My third child, Ismail, is ten years old. And
I’m a little confused as to why HE is hanging out 
in the “personality fitting room” of life instead of 
his 14 year old brother. I mean, I expect my teenager
to be trying on “the gangster” or “the emo” person-
alities right now. When I was his age, I wore “the 
jock-ette” and “the sharp witted clown” suits quite
comfortably. In fact, I never took them off. But Hamo
seems to be content still in his “artist pajamas” from
way back in kindergarten. Ismail, on the other hand,
has a rotisserie style of personalities (from the sales
racks, I might add) that include ensembles from 
“thug,” “wannabe rap artist (hold the rhythm),” “bossy
McBosspants,” “sweet, helper boy,” “mean bully guy.”
I don’t understand the attraction to most of his favorite
designs. I REALLY like “sweet, helper boy.” This is
the guy who does the dishes for me without being 
asked, volunteers to take out the trash or pick up what
I need from the market. He defends his sisters, brothers,
neighbors and cousins and even picks up trash off of the 
stairs when his slovenly cousins toss it from upper 
floors. 
“Bossy McBosspants” seems to be setting up coup
attempts daily in an effort to overthrow Hamo from his
current position as Oldest Brother. This guy jumps up and
yells out orders to the younger siblings and gets everyone
motivated to clean up their rooms and get dressed quickly
on days we’re scheduled to go out on family field trips.
“Thug” gets on my LAST nerve. He has a fascination with
knives and swearing and fighting. He is not a welcome 
personality in this house at all. In fact, he and “mean, bully
guy” have been the reason Ismail has lost computer 
privileges so many times this summer alone.
“Wannabe rap artist” would be tolerable if only he could
keep a beat. Ever see that Steve Martin movie “The Jerk”?
You know, where they were dancing around on the front 
porch and everyone was on time but him? Yeah…that’s my
boy. He knows it, too. He’s asked his eight year old brother,
Aiman, several times to teach him how to dance and Aiman
just looks at him and says, “I’ve tried. You just like to shake
your crotch. And that’s NOT krumping.” (Just a sidenote, I’d
like to thank stupid Nickelodeon and the show “Just Jordan”
for even adding KRUMPING to my little boy’s dance moves
repetoire. As though “booty popping” wasn’t enough.) Ismail
listens in awe anytime I’m going through my “oh I remember
THAT song” moments and has begged me to teach him the
lyrics to “The Rapper’s Delight”, “Parents Just Don’t Understand”
and songs like “Freakazoid.” (Yeah, I know I’m showing my age.)
I guess all I can really do is encourage him to tear off just 
the positive pieces of each of these personality-suits and stitch
them into his own unique pattern to fit Ismail. All the rest of us 
did it. And now it’s my turn to just stand back like the changing
room attendants at Macy’s and hope he opts for the classics
rather than the passing fads.
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