Saturday, January 15, 2011

Thoughts on Tigers and Dragons

People have asked me what I think of the Tiger mom. I don't know the woman. I haven't read the book. I have nothing to say about her. That doesn't seem to stop a lot of people from commenting, however. If you are going to read something, then this piece looks like a good place to start.

I was appalled to learn from my daughter that one of her classmates hears this question repeatedly from her mom, "Why can't you be more like Iris?"

That is awful on so many levels. Shouldn't we want our children to be their best selves instead of other people? Okay, that's a biased question and I have put my bias out there in the open.

I also get questions about what I did with her when she was young. Did I read to her a lot?


This is primarily a blog where I chronicle the happy things that happen in my life. I do not like to dwell on how many things I am/was unable to do. If you want to know the truth, I missed out on large chunks of my only child's childhood because of my health. And don't ask me why I didn't provide her with a sibling.

A mother's primary responsibility is to live long enough to teach her cub to hunt for herself. That means I missed out on many things while I optimized my life expectancy.

My big parenting secret is benign neglect. ;-)

Back to tigers and dragons.

As a child, I was able to play Flight of the Bumblebee on my violin at a pretty good clip through long hours of practice. I did not enjoy that particular piece. (Slower Brahms and Haydn pieces are more my thing.) I am glad that music is a part of my life and I don't resent childhood time spent practicing the violin.

When I told my mom that I was going to take a break from the violin, she didn't push back. In fact, when I think back, I can't recall a single time when we went back and forth over something. That is, when I pushed back, she let it go. Or when she pushed back, I let it go.

I am in awe that a single mom of two, working full-time, made music for my sister and I such a priority that she found the money to pay for weekly lessons with some fantastic private teachers--the kind you have to audition for before they accept you.

A high school friend's mom said that, at PTA meetings, they marveled at my mom's child-rearing abilities. It's a good thing she was at work and not attending the meetings. If they knew us better, it would have ruined her mystique. No one really knows what happens behind closed doors.

Oops, I digressed again. Back to tigers and dragons.

My mother once told me that people took entirely the wrong lesson from the Chinese adage, "When you raise a dragon, expect to get singed."

She said that people used that adage as an argument for raising docile and compliant children. But she was of the opinion that the world needs more dragons and less sheep. Her takeaway lesson from that adage is to raise a dragon and not take it too personally when you get singed.

And that is why I gave myself that purple heart and went back to work.

Next up, I was in Tanzania less than 48 hours before I made my first fabric score! More later.


  1. I can't comment on Tiger Mom either; I've read the articles but not the book and can't really comment. All parents and all children are different; and all lives are filled with decisions and regrets but hopefully we make the right decisions for us.

    I can't believe the mother who asks her child to be like your child. As a child who was subjected to that same kind of comparison for my entire childhood I can honestly say that it is awful on many many levels. The fact that I can only assume the mom does not really realize what she is doing does not make it any better.

    Bravo for fabric scores.

  2. Benign neglect is my method too! Both children have turned out well either in spite of it or because of it. Both are kind, warm-hearted adults who work hard. I think this happened because my husband and I modeled that behavior and expected it from them. But who am I to judge other moms? They do what they think is best. I think comparing children to others is horrible!

  3. I wondered if you'd get around to commenting and what you'd say. I guess I don't have to wonder any more.

  4. I like your mother's point of view. I hope I can remember that when my own girls get old enough to start breathing some fire!

    I read the excerpt from the book in the Wall Street Journal, and all I can say is that it didn't make me want to read the rest of the book.


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