Wait till those cubs are grown

McClatchy-Tribune News ServiceFebruary 6, 2011 

Ever since I read about "Tiger Mom" Amy Chua's über-stern approach to childrearing, I've pictured her older daughter scratching rebellious little marks into her bedpost, counting down the days until she can leave for college. You have to feel like a prisoner when your mama won't even let you take a pee break from five hours of violin practice.

No TV, no video games, no sleepovers, no extracurriculars ... these, according to the suddenly famous Chua, make for soft, mushy lazy kids. American kids. Ick.

What-evs, Miz Thing. All I know is that the more I read about Chua, the more I hope that I run into her grown daughters one day and they're both hanging out with scruffy guys wearing pajama pants at the Red Box kiosk.

I would laugh so hard.

Chua, a Yale professor who wrote a book about the merits of Extreme Chinese Parenting and is making the rounds of the TV shows her girls aren't allowed to watch, is backpedaling a bit because it's getting tiresome to be grilled on why she called her older daughter "garbage" after a poor performance or why she shredded her younger daughter's homemade card because it was ugly. Despite toning it down for TV, she still thinks she has all the answers and your kids are, well, stupid.

My kid, too.

As I write this column, I'm simultaneously texting my 13-year-old about her day at a ski resort with the church youth group. Chua would snarl about such foolishness ("Two days off school! You are garbage!!!!")

Amy Chua is like that "friend" you have who sends an annual holiday newsletter whose only goal is to make sure that you realize that her family is smarter, richer, healthier, better educated, more well-traveled and just plain better than anything your triflin' brood could even dream up.

Of course, it's easy to hate on Chua. We haven't pounced on another mother this hard since novelist Ayelet Waldman wrote an essay in which she admitted that she loved her husband more than her kids.

She's still digging out from that comment six years later. Frankly, we're not used to mothers saying what they really think. It's often hateful so if we all start spouting off about how we really feel, well, the fallout is going to brutal.

Think about all the times you don't say what you think when that friend brags, again, on her "overachieving" kid (who Chua would still consider to be basically a paste-eater).

You might smile tightly and swirl your Chardonnay a bit too wildly in its glass, but you're not going to say: "Oh, shut UP! Your kid's about as special as mildew; let's move on."

One of my dearest mom-friends likes to say, "I'm just grateful my kids are average." Such a statement is so profoundly refreshing that it makes me weep. Chua would just shrug. After all, someone needs to fetch the fries for her daughters when they grow up.


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