I told both of my boys that they had to personally write something as a gift to their mom for Motherís Day this year. Then I thought, ďHey, thatís a good idea. I should do it too.Ē
As I get older, I become more impressed with my mother. Iím not simply impressed with her ability to whip up an entire meal when it seems like there is no food in the house, the fact that her purse contains the solution to any problem you will encounter or that she can still take a piece of fabric and make little girls or boys clothes depending on which one her kids and grandkids bring home from the hospital next.
She has even demonstrated the ability to run over herself with a pickup truck and drive herself home moments later. But not even that is the most impressive thing about her.
Looking back, I have always been most impressed with my motherís ability to know when to step in and when to let me stand on my own.
Momís parental tests began long before I came around. She had a daughter who was a pageant queen, a drum major and a thousand other things. Then came my brother about five years later and he was a four-sport athlete that kept my parents running constantly. Then came me about five more years after that. I was a good kid, but it was probably good that I was last in line because the other two had prepared her for my special brand of frustration.
Actually, I was a pretty good kid. If my boys make it through high school making only the same mistakes I made, I would be proud. I havenít always been as good as an adult. But have you people met yourselves? If you had to deal with you every day, you wouldnít always be nice either.
My ability to bring additional stress into my momís life was on display pretty early. I still remember as a first grader, I got ďswatsĒ ó you remember, back when schools had corporal punishment and every principal had a paddle with a name or holes drilled in it or something to scare the badness out of you.
I was six years old and I had just been spanked for hitting a little girl in the face with a basketball. I donít know if the school told your parents when you had been forced to grab your ankles or if I told mom about it.
But I know she was quick to explain some things to my teacher when she found out what had happened. See, the little girl told on me and when I was asked if I did it I said yes. It was true.
But I wasnít allowed to explain and I was only six so the situation outpaced my ability to handle it. The only problem with this little girlís story was that she forgot some important details. I had thrown the ball and it did hit her in the face. Those two things were, in fact, true.
However, that was only after it had gone through a basketball goal. Back in my day, schools were too cheap to buy nets for the rims and the ball went straight through. The little girl was dumb enough to stand under the goal when a six-year-old sharpshooter like myself took aim and so she took one right in the kisser. I got spanked three times because this future window licker was dumb enough to stand under a basketball goal looking up.
Mom wasnít pleased. It was 40 years ago. I donít remember anyone apologizing to me. But I do remember my mother letting them know before they spanked me again they better know the whole story.
My motherís ability to deal with me was tested about five years later. She and dad decided to let me skip one of my brotherís baseball games and stay home by myself. I had been responsible in the past, but this night I really wanted to watch movies with a friend - a friend who lived a couple of miles from my house. If I was going to do that, I would need a story.
What a story I contrived. Before they got home to find the house empty, I had come up with a whopper. Two Hellís Angels looking guys pulled up in our driveway with the obvious attempt to be menacing. You know how rough Country Club Road can be.
I got scared. After all, who isnít scared of two members of a biker gang in his driveway?
So I grabbed my baseball bat for personal protection and ran all the way to Ronnieís house. It was handy that I needed protection, because Ronnie and I played some baseball after I got there. This was way before cell phones so my parents had to find me. I doubt it took mom long to figure out the events of the evening.
In the car on the way home, I remember my brother calling me on the finer points of my story. I also remember planning to murder him in his sleep. He was lucky to live through the night.
Mom let me sleep on it and wake up dealing with more general questions about the night. She calmly and patiently let me dig my hole deeper until I just gave up and came clean. I donít even remember how I got punished for that one. They didnít need to. Stewing in my own juices was punishment enough.
I learned a lot from my mom about when to stand up for my kids and when to let them stand on their own. Some of the best lessons in life come when you have to face the mess you made for yourself. Another great lesson in life is knowing that your mother is always there to have your back if you need her.
I learned both of those lessons plenty of times growing up.
Fortunately, mom was a great mother long before I came along and that is something that has always benefitted me.

ó Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at kent.bush@news-star.com.