The other day, during swim class (the last one for a while, thank all that is fully holy, semi-holy, and even just a little holy), I noticed that Aura was giving her teacher a bit of a hard time about going under water. After it had gone on for a few minutes, I stood up, walked over to the edge of the pool, and told Aura that I expected her to listen to her teacher and put her head under the water at least once. When she protested, I repeated what I had just said.
When I returned to my seat, another mother leaned over and said, “Look at you, getting all Tiger Mom over there!”
This woman is a close friend of mine, so I know she meant it as a joke, but the remark has resonated with me the past few days and I’ve come to a conclusion: She’s totally and completely correct.
Now, now. I’m no Amy Chua, not that I’m sure Amy Chua was even quite Amy Chua, given the mythic proportions of the fallout from her book. I lavish Aura with love and positive reinforcement, I would never insult her to inspire her to do better, yada yada yada. But I’m all about the high expectations. If I know that Aura is capable of doing something, be it finally putting her nose under water (after months of lessons, keep in mind) or moving on to the next level of the math problems we write out for her on her playroom easel almost every day (first grade seems like an excellent time for trigonometry, as I like to say when I’m good and inebriated; I’m a big hit at holiday parties).
Have you guys noticed that there’s a bit of eye-rolling and a touch of social ostracization associated with pushing your kid a little? In my severely limited view of the world, I have this understanding (and keep in mind that I came up with this one while in the throes of Diet Coke withdrawal, since I am once again trying to give it up, making me the World’s Least Bearable Person with Whom to Live Except for the Time I Gave Up Chocolate and Was Locked in the Closet Fairly Regularly):
Mid-twentieth century: DO YOUR HOMEWORK OR ELSE AND SCREW YOU ALL CREATIVITY
Late-twentieth century: I’M BFFs WITH MY KID AND WE EVEN WEAR EACH OTHER’S JEANS AND THIS BIG A HOMEWORK LOAD IS TOO CHALLENGING SQUEEE
So, I’m just going to bust out of the Tiger Mom closet and be done with it. My name is Kate and I hold my kid to high standards. She does workbooks. She is expected to read aloud to us every day. She’s starting an afterschool math enrichment program soon, and city birthday deadlines be damned, I’m petitioning for her to go to first grade in the public schools next year.
Which brings us to the following:
Um, is there any educational value in these things? If not, I’m thinking of disappearing them in the middle of the night. Or introducing really BIG place value stuff. For example:
1,322 Squinkies – 1 woman’s sanity + 1 nearby recycling bin = ?
Take that, Mensa.