Monday, January 24, 2011

"Tiger Moms"

When I got my Time magazine in the mail I couldn't wait to read the article "The Truth About Tiger Moms." To fill you in, there has been an uproar over a book called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua, a professor at Yale University, made buzz-worthy by a follow-up article in the Wall Street Journal further launching spits and spats nationwide. In her memoir she explains her parenting techniques, pushing her two daughters to, as most Americans would agree, utmost extremes. For example, she called her oldest daughter Sophia "garbage" after she acted disrespectfully and had her youngest daughter Lulu, at age 7, practice a violin piece "right through dinner into the night" more than once.

But, as the Time article is quick to ask, can we learn something from Chua's parenting ways?

As a daughter of a tiger mom, I can honestly say yes. My mother was nowhere as bad as Amy Chua, of which some things she's done she regrets, like calling her daughter garbage. But my mother is very stern and critical. To most American parents, she would be considered too harsh (at the same time, it is easy to see how much my mom loves me, she's nowhere short of affectionate.) I remember when I was in third grade my mother locked me in my room with a multiplication chart until I could recite it backwards and forwards. This may seem close to child abuse to those rather lenient parents, but believe me (I was a very stubborn child) if she hadn't done what she did I would have struggled even more in math growing up (especially considering the lousy math teachers I had later on in life). I was a fast learner when it came to words but a slow learner when it came to numbers. Likewise, Chua's daughters, now in their late teens, admit that they too will raise their children in the same fashion, although perhaps not as harshly (i.e. allowing them to have sleepovers, etc.)

Why has this particular story caused such a stir? Time writer Annie Murphy Paul offers that it hits close to home because of the current ranking of the U.S. versus the rest of the world in education (17th in reading, 23rd in science and 31st in math). As for the Chinese, Amy Chua's ethnic group? First in all three. Amy Chua is not the only tiger mom in the world. Most Asian mothers are tiger moms. I haven't met one who wasn't yet, and that's coming from a person whose own mother is Korean. Being a child of a tiger mom is challenging - the only praise offered is when you succeed. And that's probably why their children are such success stories. Like the article explains, the American way of parenting is to offer praise for the smallest of obstacles. “You got a certificate for effort? GREAT JOB, LITTLE BILLY! You're so smart and amazing!” For a tiger mom, a certificate for effort is as good as dirt, and you are not praised for it whatsoever. But this is the stark difference between these two cultures; in this case American and Chinese. Chinese parents, Chua explains, "assume strength [in their children], not fragility, and as a result they behave differently." This is one of the truest statements I've ever read. My mother treats me "harshly" because she sees me as being a strong person. I am her daughter. And she's no weakling. Life is hard, parents know that, but tiger moms prepare their children for it. My mom lived a life in which she saw her parents struggle to make a good living for her family. She pushes me to my limit because she knows I can take it, and when I can't we get into cat fights that raise the roof and then we compromise. But NEVER have I doubted that my mother loved me or wanted the best for me. In fact, her pushing me reaffirmed both those truths. Although I agree there is a limit and that you can push too far or too much, I also agree in having a firm hand and helping your child reach the best of their abilities. Each individual has so much potential, imagine having a parent raise you knowing how much you have? How much even now you could have gained? I'm not harping on anyone's parents or how they raised you or how you may raise your child but instead I'm backing up the idea that being a tiger mom is not necessarily a bad thing and that I intend to be one myself. Because even though that's in the far off future, if I have children I will assume strength, not weakness, and expect nothing but the best from them in whatever they decide to pursue.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Josh texted me today apologizing for everything. We're meeting up in a couple days. Joy!

Monday, January 17, 2011


Josh told me he was falling for me again.

I don't know if I should've seen it coming or not. Sure, we've had a history. We dated for two and a half years - when I was in high school (major detail). It was serious, but I was young. Young and stupid. Everything was serious to me in high school.

It all unfolded when I was up in Santa Barbara last weekend. I'd had vibes for at least a month that Josh might like me a lot more than he made out, but I was in denial - it was the worst thing I could think of so naturally I tried my best to NEVER think about it. Still, enough was enough. I tried on two occasions to talk to him about it in private but those didn't pan out quite as picturesquely as I'd like and I could tell he knew what I was getting at and didn't want to talk about "it" either. There was an elephant in the room and we were both trying to avoid being stomped on.

But it happened. And not in the most elegant of ways. It was a couple of my friends' 21st birthdays (reason for going up to SB) so of course I was drinking and having a good time. And, in my drunken state, I had the brilliant idea of texting Josh and asking him just how much and in what way he liked me. He jokingly told me "a tad" and I eased up a bit. A tad? That's teeny! Nothing to worry about. The next night was a different story. I was sober and I wanted to know if he really meant "a tad" as a little. He told me no, he was joking, that he actually liked me a lot. And that's when it got messy.

To skip over the theatrics I am now in a situation of sorts. He doesn't want to talk until March. He needs space. But I don't think that will help. At all. The only thing I can think of "helping" (only him) would be to cut me out of his life. But he's my best friend. I really don't think he will. But I don't know. As much as I think I know him and what he'll do, I can never truly know anyone (I learned that one from my last relationship). I could understand if I treated him like a complete asshole...but I haven't. I just want my best friend back. And there's nothing I can do.

It's like high school all over again. When I broke up with him. It's the same reason all over. It was my senior year when I started to really think about "love" and what that meant. I was reading The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis and I realized that the love I had for Josh was of Phileo. Let me give a short lesson on the four loves.

The Greeks came up with four categories to describe "love":

-Storge (Affection)
-Phileo (Friendship)
-Eros (Romance)
-Agape (Unconditional love)

An example of storge would be when people say "I love that band!" That band's not their good friend (phileo), they're not in love with that band (eros) or will love that band no matter what happens (agape) but they do hold a great sense of affection for that band. Phileo is more self-explantory. Eros is simply (and I say that lightly) the feeling of being in love, (sidenote) Venus is the sexual undertones that implies. Of course you don't have to feel eros to have sex with someone, making it different from Venus but of course it's also included. Agape is the ultimate form of love. It's usually used when discussing the love of God - an all-powerful type of love. When I was reading The Four Loves it was more of an awakening than really learning about it for the first time. I had always known the love for one person differs from that of another, I just didn't think (teenagers) about it until I started to grow up a little. I realized I didn't feel eros for Josh, but it was more than storge. It was phileo. We had a bond that ran deep, and potentially breaking it scared me into prolonging our relationship for longer than it needed to be. Ultimately, I did lose him (for two years) but I don't think he ever believed it was for that reason. Maybe that's why he didn't believe me when I told him there couldn't be a future for us. But maybe - no, definitely - he just couldn't control how he felt. I know how that is, and I hated it when I couldn't control my feelings which is why I think he doesn't want to be around me. He doesn't want that constant reminder. I don't think I'll lose him, but I don't know how things will be now.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


My mouth is numb
Swollen lips is what you gave me
I can't say if the act was wrong or right
There's so much feeling in this quiet, hanging silently like a noose
It holds the terror of what could be
With the emotion my swollen lips could transfer
You left me bruised

When we speak it's as if nothing is completely heard
You want something that can never be
You want me
But why can't you see
Tell me why can't you see
That it can't be me

There's an awkwardness in the air
So poignant I can feel its weight
Upon the swollen lips that you gave me
Wanting to burst with words
Too afraid to say what's in my heart
And I don't understand
Why I struggle against these feelings
Biting my tongue and pursing my lips
These swollen lips that you gave me