In Japan, there is a term pronounced “oy-yo-baka,” which means stupid parent and used to describe people who brag about their kids. Our story involves one mother who was anything but boastful. As my father in law (“Otousan”) tells it, he was working at an ice cream store when the owner announced that he was going out of business, so Otousan raised money from family and bought the small shop.

Soon after hanging up his shingle, a young man entered claiming to be desperate for work. Big-hearted, Otousan could hardly refuse though he would soon come to regret this decision. His first week, the new delivery driver wrecked the van. Otousan was convinced that he did so intentionally. Mistakes continued to pile up and his employee was quickly becoming a serious liability. However, Otousan had a big problem in that he couldn’t fire the man. His inept employee happened to be the son of a high-ranking Yakuza gang member. It wasn’t long before it was revealed that the whole thing was a shakedown orchestrated by both father and son.

Otousan hadn’t much personal experience with Yakuza but knew a little about how they operated. After all, his neighbor’s son had also joined the Yakuza leaving his mother heartbroken and ashamed of her miscreant child. She listened to Otousan’s tale of woe with great interest. Afterward, she mentioned it to her own son who by that time had become an even higher-ranking Yakuza boss than the villains Otoousan was now facing. Looking for redemption in his mother’s eyes, the son acted swiftly. The very next day the employee and his father showed up to the shop and proffered a tearful apology to Otousan for all the trouble they had caused him. They even paid him back for the wrecked van. When Otousan told his neighbor what a big help her son had been, she beamed with pride. That day forward, she would often brag to people what a great man her son had become but no one dared call her oy-yo-baka.