Guest post by Cousin Carla….
I have to begin by saying that I have made some . . . not some but several . . . actually MANY mistakes in raising my kids.
– I dropped my 6 month old.
– I locked my daughter in the car . . . twice . . . in one week.
– I threw my sons new shoes (an Easter present) at him and hit him in the face . . . on purpose.
– When I got pulled over by a cop I told my kid to jump in the back, lay down and act like he was going to throw up. He was 7 at the time.
My point is the perfect parent is a myth. However, many other people want to tell us how to perfectly parent our kids. I can not count the times I was told what I ought to do differently. I should give them space to discover themselves. I should make them do all the extra credit homework even if they already have an A. I should not let them ___________ (fill in the blank with either dye their hair, pierce themselves, or get tattoos). Everyone wants to tell you what you’re doing wrong.
I recently read “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” expecting to hate everything about it. I originally heard about the book by reading the reviews in the back of my intellectual magazines (People and Entertainment Weekly) and it sounded like something a crazy person wrote. It is a book by a first generation Chinese-American and her Jewish husband who decided to raise their daughters “the Chinese way”. This included no playdates, no sleepovers and practicing their instruments for 5 hours a day! Wow! I couldn’t wait to see all the things this crazy mother did wrong!
Thinking I could mock and make fun of this book was the only reason I picked it up to look at it. I started it one day when I had an extra half an hour at Barnes and Noble before meeting the hubs for dinner. When he finished tutoring his student and came to tell me it was time to go it was too late. I was enthralled with the book and completely IN LOVE with the tiger mom.
I know this will upset my dearest cousin, who has had tremendous success with her parenting style. Her kid, my cousin, is a wonderful, interesting, resilient, funny, respectful, bright, talented individual (despite his insistence that I must be called Aunt Carla). As unsettling as this is for her, in this book I had found a kindred spirit.
When my son was young I would sometimes let him have a “no rules day”. This meant that for several hours I would let him do whatever he felt like doing. He immediately would strip to the skin, run naked to the kitchen, grab a box of cereal and sit on the couch and watch TV. I am convinced her would still be there if “no rules day” ever lasted more than just a few hours. He is now 22.
The Tiger Mom understood my desire to push my son to do his best always. She would have totally understood why I threatened to chase him around the baseball field if he didn’t start running his fastest in the race around the bases at the end of practice. However, she would not have understood that when he won the race, causing his teammate who he had always let win to burst into tears, and came over to me and said, “I will never do that again. I just don’t care that much.”
She would have cheered when I coached him so much from the stands during his Little League games. “Stay in the batter’s box! Wait for your pitch! Don’t just swing at anything!” She would have been completely confused when he stepped out of the batter’s box and told the umpire he wouldn’t bat until I left the field. I had to watch the rest of the game from my car. However, I did take notes, so I coach him about the game the entire trip home.
I’m sure I was voted the WORST mom on the team when I told my kid he would have to drink his spit because he had left the water bottle I prepared for him at home. Four other Moms snuck him bottles of Gatorade into the dug out. One even gave him candy too.
I’m not saying that the Tiger mom and I were right, but it would have been nice to be understood. It would have been nice to have some support when I made my ten year old take everything out of her room except for her bed and clothes when I caught her lying. She lived like a monk for a month. All of the other Mom’s thought this was the most unreasonable, horrible punishment EVER. It was bad enough that I only let my kids watch anything with a screen for an hour a day, now the poor baby had no TV in her room. It was cruel and unusual punishment. They actual had a sort of PTO intervention to talk to me about it. It seems I was scaring their children.
The Tiger Mom would have understood.
Carla is right: I’m not a fan of the Tiger Mom, but I’m also not a fan of the holier-than-tho parents or parenting for an audience. Joe often called these types of parents “Shushers” because they are always “Shushing” someone about something.
I can remember one soccer game where I became a little over invested and a mom looked at me and said, “Shhhhh….” I shot back, ” Shhhh yourself” (I know so witty and mature-right?). My comment did not win me a front-road seat with the twin sweater set, but it felt so good, and I was the only mom who got a big hug after the game; maybe that was because I wasn’t racing around making sure everyone had the right water bottle.
Other posts by Carla: