Saturday, February 19, 2011

Doing Battle with Tiger Mom - Tiger Mom, Tiger Mom, What Do You Say?

Crosspost from TimeOutDad

So, I recently wrote a short book review on BookDads of Amy Chua's, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. I actually had my Mother-in-law read it, too, and initially, as she started reading it, she was a bit infuriated with Amy Chua. As she continued reading it (because it's hard to put down once you get started), the book definitely grew on her, and it made for lots of interesting conversation.

Writing a book review is one thing. Doing battle with Tiger Mom is not something I was prepared for...

Malachy had his first little recital yesterday at school. As performance day drew near, I discovered there was a bit of Tiger Mom inside me, and I didn't like it at all. I found myself saying ugly things, like:

  • Come on! You can do better!

  • If you don't play it right, then I'll...

  • If you don't make any mistakes, then we'll...

  • Stop looking at me every time you make a mistake!

  • Don't rush! Slow down!

  • You're playing it too slow! Hurry up!

Ai ya! There I was judging and mocking Tiger Mom for being so harsh to her daughters, and here I was doing and saying things that should and could have been edited. Do we all have a bit of Tiger Mom within us? What were my reasons for pushing him to practice? Was it for him? Was it for me? Tiger Mom, Tiger Mom, what do you say?

As Malachy practiced, I sensed that he was feeling the stress and pressure coming from within me. I knew he wanted to please me. When he made a mistake, he just stopped to check how I would react. Sometimes I would get upset, and other times I just let it go. At the end of the day, he always received praise and hugs from Mom and Dad. Most importantly, he enjoys practicing and playing, and he definitely has more showmanship than his dad.

The bottom line is that if you want to do something really well, you HAVE TO practice. Once in a while, you can rely on raw talent, but 99.99% of the time, it's about hard work. For things like music and some schoolwork, it's about repetition, repetition, repetition. With the piano, if he didn't practice, he wouldn't have done as well. The crazy thing is that after all the practicing, there was still the chance he would "mess up." Watching ice skating on television comes to mind... So, what's the reward? I guess you feel accomplished when you do it right and do it well. You prove to yourself that you can do it if you work hard. Plus, you get to have all those around you cheering you on.

After the recital, we could tell that he was pleased with performance. Later on, he called PoPo and GongGong (who were at the airport) and told them he didn't make any mistakes. They were so proud, because I had posted it on YouTube, and they had already seen it on the iPhone minutes later. Technology is amazing! He thanked Gong Gong for the practice sessions he had with him when grandpa was in New York.

Gong Gong had him stop and start over every time he "messed up," and Malachy never complained. From the other room, we would hear him play, Father, I Adore You, again and again and again. He only got a check mark from Gong Gong when he played it without any mistakes. Gong Gong was tough, but never mean. When Malachy came out of the room, he felt good about his practice session. I learned from Gong Gong that Malachy didn't mind some hard work. ;)

Here's to more doing battle with Tiger Mom again and again and again... ;)


Anonymous said...

I do think there's a little bit of (I will refrain from using her name too much) "fight" in all of us as parents. If we don't push our children to succeed, how will they learn to push themselves? It is the job of the parent to show examples of hard work ethic. This is true of any culture, and any decade. In today's society, where apathy and economic disaster lurks around the corner, parents need to step up their parenting game and really make a difference at home.

violet streak said...

Thanks for this post. I too read this book, but never blogged about it.

RS Money said...

As Malachy practiced, I sensed that he was sensation the stress and stress coming from within me. I knew he preferred to please me.

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