Kobe should be glad he didn't have building blocks, too

Happy Mother's Day Mrs. Bryant! I hear your basketball-star son, Kobe, is suing you for "stealing" his boyhood stuff and putting it up for auction.

Sources say you snuck into Kobe's current pad and snabbled his stuff in a fit of pique because he didn't buy you a Vegas mansion. Others insist Kobe left his assorted roundball memorabilia, accumulated since grade-school, behind after he moved out of the family home eons ago, giving you carte blanche to offload his treasures.

The auction house forked over a $450,000 advance. Kobe tossed in a big fat subpoena. And I'm giving you a Mother's Day pass.

Because I believe my sainted mother is watching. And chortling with glee.

When I was an extremely young mannerless twerp, Mom would send me to my room when things spiraled out of control. And by out of control, I mean when I would pitch ill-tempered snit-fits when I didn't get my way.

Mom said neither hitting nor hollering worked with this natural-born termagant. She tried corporal punishment once and inadvertently escalated the situation. After she delivered a solid whack on my 3-year-old behind, I allegedly grabbed the wooden spoon and smacked Mom back.

"It isn't fair to hit people. Unless they can hit you back," I insisted.

Mom said she was shocked at the disrespect displayed by her youngest child. But she also claimed she knew by the martial light in my eye that she'd either have to kill me or find another form of discipline. Yelling upset her stomach. And it didn't work anyway. Turns out I'm a lot like my two parrots — who also believe louder is better when it comes to excited utterances.

"You are definitely your father's daughter," Mom often said, meaning it was painfully clear I'd inherited Dad's mercurial temperament.

Mom was placid, but no pushover. She figured out a way to spare the rod and school the child. When I crossed the boundaries of acceptable behavior, Mom would calmly lead me by the hand — down the hall to my room.

"You can come out when you're fit for company," she'd say, closing the door with a firm click.

I'd stomp around in my Keds. I'd even kick the door when feeling especially feisty. But I knew better than to open it. Truth be told, Mom was capable of shriveling souls with a searing stink-eye. And I was smart enough not to want to test my luck with the spoon again.

Placed in solitary confinement and deprived of an audience, boredom would ensue. I'd inevitably turn to the chest filled with more than 100 wooden blocks — and create a world of my own.

These large, smooth pieces of natural wood were cool to the touch, but they lighted a fire in this youngster's vivid imagination. Magic castles and pirate ships arose from the squares, circles, dowels and rectangles with half-moon cutouts. Up and up the structures would rise until they were taller than my pint-sized self. Battling to free myself from the tower prison or climbing invisible rigging to avoid that walk on the plank, I'd spin wildly around the room — then deliberately crash into the creation with a huge grin and a triumphant shout.

Mom always kept an ear out, and when she'd hear the sound of tumbling blocks clattering across the hardwood floor, she would know it was time to release me from the dungeon with a hug and a smile.

The magic blocks stayed nestled in their chest, tucked in the corner of my old bedroom, for decades. And I'd long since fledged from the family home when Mom made the fateful announcement that she'd given them to a neighbor kid. Luckily, no attorneys were present.

"Mom! How could you give my blocks away without asking me? They were miiiiine!" I sputtered, exhibiting the maturity of someone who needed a time out and some block time.

The truth is, I wasn't prepared for the sense of loss. And a little corner of my childish heart still harbored angst, until I read about Kobe and his mom. And heard my mom's voice chuckling in my head.

"Hells bells, Sandra Lynne! If only you'd become famous, I coulda sold those blocks for a pretty penny."

Reach Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or sspecht@mailtribune.com. Follow her at twitter.com/RogueRiverMuse.


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