Chinese mothering, the post that came before I finished posting about Chinese mothering


For my first regular post of 2011, I thought I’d take a break from the typically lighthearted writing to which this blog has gotten accustomed (and I use “accustomed” in the most general sense. Hiatus, busy, sorry, blah blah blah).

Because not everything has to be funny, does it? Sometimes, parenting is a serious matter. There are so many directives from so many different sources that it’s hard to sort the wise from the wild.

Take, for example, the whole “Chinese mothering” controversy. If you haven’t read the original Wall Street Journal article, here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: Ms. Chua, mother of two girls, insists that her way of raising kids is better, since her kids will turn out more disciplined, more successful, and more driven. That sounds nice, except that her road to success is paved with no extracurricular fun except hours and hours of mandatory piano and violin practice, even if you’d really rather break the violin over your mom’s head and go shoot some hoops.

I mused on the psychological implications of this intriguing yet appalling parenting technique. I prepared to write an erudite post, adding my personal opinions and deductions to the controversy already swirling around the topic.

Then the Maiden came bursting in the door.

She was fresh from a day at school and a bonus trip to the comic shop (Ms. Chua’s girls never read comics) with the Man. And she seemed happy to see me.

I hadn’t told her about the mandatory violin practice yet.

But her exuberant greetings weren’t all a tangle of wild arms, red-tighted legs, and static hair. She had a performance to make. And while the Chua girls of the world came home this afternoon and sedately practiced their scales, my daughter stood in front of me and warbled My Fair Lady‘s “I’m Getting Married in the Morning,” complete with Cockney accent and drunken overtones.

I joined in. Nothing says mother-daughter bonding better than a quasi-good-humored vocal lament about having to get married because your woman got respectable, but let’s just get rip-roaring drunk while we have one last chance. Oh, and no matter how wasted I am, just you make sure you get me to the church on time.

Admittedly,  it’s mildly disturbing to hear my daughter advising that we “pull out the stopper” and “have a whopper,” although she probably thinks the singer’s rhapsodizing about Burger King. On the other hand, it gets me thinking about how it’s only a few hours until bedtime, and in my pantry there is a bottle of wine with a stopper on top.

I wonder how much wine Ms. Chua drinks?

After our performance, the Maiden decided to further pave her road to success by cutting a hole in her pajamas, changing her outfit twice, reading comic books, sneaking bits of dinner, playing with play dough, strewing bits of play dough on the floor, forcing the Man to play hide and seek, and asking eight billion times when supper would be ready.

I thought of the time that could she could have spent perfecting something other than a drunken accent and a tower of play dough and a knowledge of what happened when Batman’s world collided with Alice in Wonderland (they both had Mad Hatters– who knew?). And I then thought of the post I could have written if I hadn’t had to write about what happened when I was trying to write the first post.

But I decided to let both wait for tomorrow. “Pull out the stopper . . .”

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