Archives For Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

tiger mom

By the time he was seven, my kid would tell his little friends “I do homework in the summer because when I grow up, my mom wants me to be able to compete in a global economy.”

I’m THAT mom, the one who questions her kid as to why he got that one A, when all the rest of his grades were A pluses.

 

I grew up in one of the worst housing projects in NYC. I’ve been able to forge ahead partly because of my intelligence and sense of humor, but undeniably because of my project girl survival skills.

My kid is soft. Thank God, he’s a soft suburban kid who never has to worry about gunshots in the playground. He lacks survival instincts because he doesn’t NEED them.

What if life takes a giant dump on him?

I can’t give him street smarts by dropping him off in my old neighborhood, like a Hunger Games arena, and see if he’s still alive at the end of the day.

I have no way to prepare him for emotional trauma or tremendous adversity.  But ONE THING I can give him – I can teach him to EXCEL at everything he does, particularly academics.

To help him establish himself in a career, I can prepare him to KNOCK OUT ALL THE COMPETITION.

I want him to be THE BEST.

Not just HIS best. THE best.

 

 

I taught him to read early, so he entered kindergarten already reading.  Around that age, I introduced him to numbers. By first grade, I was quizzing him on his time tables while we drove places.

Like most children, my kid initially balked at homework. But I reinforced in him the notion that homework is a priority. At 12, he’s internalized this voice to the point where he does his weekend homework on Friday – so he can enjoy the rest of the weekend.

I make my kid do homework in the summer. I buy him workbooks in math and language arts for the grade he’s entering, and he has to spend a half hour a day on each of them.

There is a documented loss of academic skills in children over the summer. Knowing that, why would I want such an easily preventable thing to happen? Yes, I KNOW summers are for lazy days of barbecues and swimming. I’m not forcing my kid to kneel on rice. It’s an hour a day, people.

 

I’m not a full throttle Tiger Mom, as in the woman who coined the phrase in her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Amy Chua’s memoir of raising her two daughters chronicled daily hours of forced music practice, severe restrictions on extracurriculars, bans on social activities like sleepovers, and punishment and shaming if her children failed to achieve her high expectations.

My parenting style is somewhere in the gray area, between “tiger” and “dolphin,” albeit much closer to tiger. I’m a single working mom with sole custody of my son. Dolphin parenting advocates disciplining your child with “creativity and fun.” Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Furthermore, films of dolphins show them ramming baby porpoises to death. Probably because they snapped after trying to “have fun” disciplining their children.

The public loves to rip Amy Chua apart. I think it’s her combative, holier-than-thou attitude, and offensively pretentious tone she assumes in her book. She’s the Asian Ann Coulter, and it’s stylish Left liberalism to hate her. Her exaggerated version of Tiger Mom is more is an example of narcissistic personality disorder. I would never make my son practice his instrument relentlessly for hours, without bathroom or food breaks.

BUT. I did insist he LEARN an instrument, when in fact, he strongly resisted it. Playing an instrument has been shown to have real impact on cognitive abilities.

I also totally dig music, came from a family of musicians, and most importantly, need someone to jam with.

 

I was raised dirt poor; the kind of poor where I feared feeling my feet pressing the inside of my shoes. We couldn’t afford new shoes.
I’m better off than that, but not the kind of success I want for my child.

It’s simple Parenting 101. I want him to have a better life than the one I currently provide for him. He’s already having a better childhood, one that includes love, safety, security, encouragement, attention, real family time and memory-making adventures.

But achieving a higher standard of living than the generation that came before is nowhere NEAR the slam dunk it once was. So, I’m looking to hone his competitive edge.

Yes, he’s smart. Natural talent and innate intelligence, past a certain point, won’t take you far enough without a strong work ethic. At some point the ability to persevere is more important.

 

In America, the idea seems to be that we live in a land of opportunity and if you just follow your dreams everything will turn out wonderful in the end.

Not really.

The world is a hard place. Democracy is a sham and equality of opportunity is a myth. However, if you work hard to distinguish yourself among the pack, you have a better chance of clawing your way into the privileged class of people who can afford to not be enslaved by a soul crushing daily grind to make ends meet.

A lot of money does NOT equal a LOT of  happiness – but SOME money equals SOME happiness. No matter what your values are, being financially comfortable gives you the freedom to do things that struggling financially simply does not.

The problem with all the critiques of the tiger mom parenting style is that they feel Tiger Mom-ing only yields a socially constructed notion of material success. These critics fail to acknowledge “success” by a more accurate definition: growing up to be adults with power of self-determination. This is what money gives you. So deriding the single-minded focus towards “material success” as if it’s inherently wrong is just fashionable new age ethos.

When I came home with phenomenal grades, my mother ONLY looked at the one 97, demanding, “Why is this not 100?” I do not do that. I first congratulate my son on his A pluses. THEN I point to the one A, and demand,”Why isn’t this an A plus?”

That's what I call Fucking A

That’s what I call Fucking A

 

Unlike Amy Chua I never make my kid feel bad when he doesn’t 100% succeed, because learning to fail is just as important as learning to succeed. I do not want to raise a worker bee who is unable to fix situations that go wrong.

 

 

American parents use the emotional well-being of the child as an excuse for their own laziness in enforcing any sort of discipline and work ethic.

They assume fragility in our children, instead of strength.

My kid is loaded up like a pack mule on the days he has band practice. He has to carry his backpack, laptop, lunch bag and saxophone. Initially, he wanted me to walk him to the bus stop and carry his sax, because that’s what ALL the moms do.

Guess what? Who’s going to be at the other end of the ride, helping him drag all that stuff off the bus, and through the hallways? NO ONE.

So I refused. Instead, I helped him figure out the best way to juggle everything. He feels empowered.

 

And I don’t have to put on pants at 7:10 am. It’s s a win-win.

 

What is your parenting style? Are you a tiger, dolphin, kangaroo? Aardvark?
What do you think of the Tiger Mom style? 
Talk to me. I’m listening. 

 

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Outing Myself

January 24, 2014 — 120 Comments

meanpeople

A blog is a great place to hide what a

MESS

I am this week.

With my carefully constructed cyber facade you don’t get to see that I’m

Disoriented. Panicked. Anxious.

My hands are tingly; almost numb.

I’m making a whole lot of typos.

For once, I’m grateful for spellcheck. I normally never use it. I actually didn’t know it was even up there, until about a week ago.

Clueless. Yeah. I’m like that.

 

I was accused this week of being a liar.

Everyone who knows me knows that I suck at lying.

“Mom, what’s gay sex?”

“It’s when two men insert their penises in each other.”

“Where?”

“Wherever they can.”

 

I am, however, guilty of lying by omission.

What I present to you here is funny, cool, snarky, New York tough, great mom, wild Samara.

Sometimes I just SUCK.

Sometimes I’m close to CRAZY.

Sometimes I’m MEAN.

 

Let’s start with this “You’re such a great mother” thing.

This blog post my kid did. Yes, he was awesome.

But by 10:30 last night?  Two hours past his bedtime?

I was ready to beat him over the head with my laptop.

But since this is the yelling generation, not the hitting generation, I said,

“Dude, I’m exhausted.

He wanted to look for more kraken pictures.

He needed just the right kraken picture, because nothing is worse than a bad KRAKEN picture in a blog post.

“You have GOT TO GET TO SLEEP ALREADY!”

“Mama, scroll back –

“NO.”

‘But there were –

“NO!”

“But I-”

“Seriously. GO the FUCK to sleep!”

Dropped an F bomb. BOOM.

Yeah. I’m like that.

 

We have a lot of fun. I am definitely a “fun” mom.

Just last week, I made him run around the car at a red light at a very busy intersection.

BUT

It’s not fun around here if he brings home a “B” on a test.

I don’t stick toothpicks under his fingernails, but I don’t say, “That’s great! Maybe you’ll get an “A next time.”

HELL no.

I say, “What did you get wrong? Let’s look at it right now.”

As in, right now.

This is called Tiger Mom-ing.

Yeah. I’m like that.

 

I once heard him tell his friend, “I like to do well in school so I can eventually compete in a global economy.”

He’s TEN.

 

I make my kid do homework all summer.

Yes, you read that sentence right.

He gets to have fun. Go to camp. Romp in the dirt, pick dingleberries out of his ass, collect farts in a jar – whatever it is boys his age do all day.

He also has to do homework. Every day. 30 minutes.

Because I’m the mom, and I say so. That line of reasoning.

Also, because there is a documented loss of retention in school age children over the summer months.

Even during the summer, we visit the library every week to take out books.

You know who’s in the library in August? Me, Little Dude, and 6 Chinese families.

 

It’s not just school work I torture him with.

I’m like that about everything.

He studies Tae Kwondo.

When he competes, I make sure he trains hard.

“Master B says, as long as we all have fun, we all win.”

I HATE that “everyone’s a winner/give everyone a trophy/ let’s just cut the balls off society” attitude.

“Oh really? Well, if winning isn’t the point, why don’t you all just hang out and spar at the dojo all day? Why even bother to compete?”

Once, at a competition they paired him with a kid who was several inches taller.

When the match began, my kid instinctively took 2 steps back.

Oh, HELL NO.

Afterwards, I said, “Don’t you EVER back away from an opponent during a match. EVER.

When that match starts, the first thing your opponent should see is YOUR HEEL coming at HIS FACE. You got me?”

Yeah. I said that.

 

He brings home a trophy every time. But still.

Should I be saving for his college education? Or his therapy?

 

MY New York BFF said the Polar Vortex Collapse is responsible for a whole bunch of shitty things converging in a horrible way for me.

Sickness. Death. Financial problems. Huge domestic blow ups. Work related crises.

When everything falls apart at once, so do I.

I don’t do multiple crises well.

I can only hold it together to make a pretense of sanity for my kid.

 

I’m not sleeping.

I wish I drank or smoked weed. Perhaps that would take the edge off.

I don’t like alcohol. I get drunk off of 1/4 glass of wine.

Can you imagine me getting sloppy drunk, alone? That image would make a carefree person suicidal.

I’m not opposed to weed. It’s not a gateway to make me start banging dope.

But this urban dirt weed?

Forget it.

I used to know people from Northern CA. Near Humboldt County. Do you… know where I’m going with this?

They were purveyors of the Kind kind. If I could have THIS kind of clean, uplifting brain tingle, then perhaps.

But I’ll be damned if I’m going to call one of the cast members of The Jersey Shore to sell me some Swamp Grass.

So I can pollute my lungs with with paranoia-inducing chemicals, and reflect for hours upon all my conspiracy theories, convinced that the CIA is tapping my phone.

So, I just,

LOSE IT.

 

I had no patience for my students this week. A CRUCIAL week.

When a student didn’t know that “It was his 16th summer” meant he was 16 years old,

I rolled my eyes at her. A real visible hairy eyeball.

Yeah. I did that.

I wanted to tell her to forget going to college completely and suggest cosmetology school.

Except my hairdresser is very smart and that would have been an insult to her profession.

I almost suggested the pole. She’s very pretty.

I stopped short of that. I actually bit my upper lip so hard, it still hurts.

From 2 days ago.

 

Someone I know was recognized in a positive way this week. I’d felt wronged by him in the past.

And because I was hurting for a completely different person, who is suffering at the moment,

and because the two things HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH EACH OTHER,

except that they both dwell in MY head,

I bombarded the first person with horrible, scathing emails. Many of them.

Yeah. I did that.

 

My college BFF didn’t too so well on her first chemo. She’s supposed to have months of treatments.

She ended up in the hospital after her first.

I’m not sure why, but she didn’t call or text me. She posted on Facebook that she was in the hospital.

I don’t go on Facebook.

Facebook is a Whore.

I have a business to run. A child to tend do. Live people who I have to work in front of, every day, NOT a computer screen.

I can’t frolic and cavort on Facebook every day. If I could, I’d be on my company’s Facebook page.

Not my personal one. Which I haven’t been since 2011.

I don’t have time to gape at vacation albums; the cyber depiction of America’s Relationship with Credit.

Not my blogging one, which doesn’t exist, because of that pesky business/child thing.

My ex goes on Facebook. Of course he does! He texted me. “BFF is in the hospital.”

I was so freaked – and angry – at her for not letting me know.

Because it’s Samara’s World! And her cancer is all about ME, goddammit, me!!

Not about the fact that she may only be alive another 6 months.

I texted her, “What the FUCK is going on? You’re in the hospital? Why didn’t you text me? I don’t go on Facebook, how the FUCK am I supposed to know you’re in the hospital?

Yeah. I did that.

To my best friend with cancer.

I didn’t think about why she might have done it,

or even that, whatever she does, it has to be okay.

Because she’s probably dying.

 

What if, I died tomorrow, and this had been my last week on earth?

Holy Shit.

This would NOT be the way I want to go out.

It would be like, getting hit by a bus and dying just as you’ve been released from jail for stealing White Castle hamburgers.

 

Little Dude came over to practice his solo for temple tonight while I was writing this.

I had no idea what he was saying. I don’t know Hebrew.

 

Temple was a nice comfortable 55 degrees this evening. My vagina went numb.

Jews are nothing if not frugal.

 

I cried like a bitch, watching him up on the podium, cause in less than 3 years, he will be reading from the Torah.

And 5 years of Hebrew school and Friday night services will culminate in his Big Moment.

He led the Congregation on his page.

 

Was it a coincidence that his page from the prayer book was

“TO LOVE AND CARE”?

and we read the English back to him:

“We thank you for implanting within us a deep need for each other, and for giving us a capacity to love and care.

May we always be grateful that we have one another and are able to express our love and acts of kindness.

Keep us gentle in our speech.

May we waste no opportunity to speak words of sympathy, of appreciation, of praise.”

 

Maybe, It was my reminder to pray tonight. To be a better person.

I’m so glad I get another chance.

To be

The person I can be. The friend I can be. The mom I can be.

Or maybe

It was a just nice to be somewhere where they serve a lot of cake.

We love cake.

 

Have you ever felt like you just screwed up really badly? With everything?

Talk to me.  I’m listening. 

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