Tiger Mom

Up until President’s Day, I had successfully avoided reading anything about the Tiger Mother due to extreme lack of interest. But since my mother cornered me to yesterday with this article in Time magazine (she is extremely anxious for the Baby’s future and wants to make sure he does well), I have now had to form an opinion.

Tiger Mom sounds bonkers — she has called her kid “garbage,” made her kid practice a violin piece well into the night, skipping dinner, and rejected a valentine from a four-year-old, saying it wasn’t good enough.

But there were other ideas mentioned that don’t sound as bad — assume your kid is strong not fragile; emphasize the value of hard work over talent/intellect; give your kid the experience to succeed at least once (that violin story); get over the idea that you’re special.

Feeling special is something that has been a belief of great disservice for some people I know. It makes them feel exempt from effort and surprise when things don’t go there way, as if fate were thwarted.

How do you raise a kid to feel comfortable competing but be okay if things don’t always end up as planned? The Tiger Mom thing is resonating, the article says, because there is a great deal of anxiety over the fact that our country is no longer the powerhouse super country it used to be — so many other countries turn out higher grades, etc. I think about that too. I would like America to be number one, I’m used to it! But then I think about the fact that we’re not the only country to abdicate its top spot. We could maybe have talks with Italy, how did they feel after World War II? I mean, life went on. People still fall in love, go to school, make shoes in Italy. (If I’ve talked about this before, sorry. I repeat myself all the time. Poor Husband.)

I did well in school only because my mother pushed me. I only kept studying so I wouldn’t get grounded. This resulted in good things for me academically speaking. I am basically bright, but extremely lazy, so without maternal intervention, I would probably just be happy watching TV with a jar of Nutella and spoon.

I will say that we raise people to believe they are special is a disservice to us.


After his brain illness, there are a lot of things my dad can’t handle, or rather, that he handles differently. For instance, he has issues with motor skills, language mishaps, memory. He can’t communicate the way he used to. Sometimes, my father loses patience with his new brain (which has gotta be hard. If it were me, I might just spend all of my days drunk), but mostly, he seems to accept the present circumstances of his life and does not dwell on what used to be. Though once, on a trip to Korea, he told Husband (who was then just Boyfriend, but then became Fiance during that trip, because my mother introduced him to everyone as such) “Can you believe I used to work as a translator for top American generals?”

Sometimes, to be honest, I lose patience with my father’s new brain. I wish I didn’t. He gets upset when I snap, far more sensitive to insensitive treatment than he used to be. I called a social worker at his hospital, convinced that there’s got to be a better way. People have coped with this before. There must be some kind of existing, well-tested strategy with Post-it notes or something that prevent family members from losing it.

Sadly, the social worker said there wasn’t. She said, You will always get annoyed at your parents; they are your parents. You have to accept it.

We went swimming a few weeks ago, very excited to see Baby in the pool. Mostly, Baby climbed to the top of my head like a lemur monkey, terrified of the water and the multitude of swimmers surrounding us. We gave up. Mom took Baby to the waiting room, and Dad and I swam laps.

The lanes are labeled Slow, Moderate, and Fast, and Dad went to Fast, mostly, I think, because he couldn’t process the meaning of the sides, but whatever, this is his gym, he comes here every day, so I decided not to worry. I went to my Slow lane, and eventually, Dad I end up in adjoining lanes. I wave! He waves back and keeps swimming. I sink underwater and watch.

He is a good swimmer — his stride is strong and youthful, and in that moment, I admire his grace. I watch until his bright red floral trunks disappear in the blue as he swims farther and farther away from me.


Sometimes, I remember the arduous acting gigs I’ve pulled off (forgive me if I’ve already written about this), and try to recall what drove me. When I did my one-woman show, I schlepped the largest set piece (a four-by-four map on foamcore piece wrapped in black hefty bags) on my back. When I walked down subway stairs, it was light enough to catch the wind, and flapped like a pair of retarded wings, smacking commuters willy-nilly. I would also have a canvas bag of props, costumes, and whatever food I needed that day. On a trip like this, I’m invariably late, tired, and perspiring. For one particular gig, I had to transfer to the L train, full of Williamsburg hipsters, and yet somehow, finally, found a seat, but no sooner did I settle in then my orange for lunch popped out of my bag. Each time I reached for it, it rolled a little bit farther from my grasp, literally as if someone was tugging on it at the other end. Every time I passed a new set of hipsters, they would laugh. It rolled the entire length of the car before finally stopping in front of the last seat.


It stopped in front of Jovinna, this actress I had done a show with and whom I hadn’t laid eyes on in years.

“Oh hey, what’s up.”

I told this story at work and my co-workers called me Ally McBeal. I am lucky in that I do get random (though infrequent) moments of magical realism in my ordinary comings and goings.

This is not a piece that will end with me saying I’m going back to acting.

Ha ha!

Subway bullies

Had a lovely Sunday with the Parents and the Baby over at the Brooklyn Museum of Art today. My only complaint was on the subway ride over, these two elderly, African-American ladies were shrieking about repentance and going to hell to this white, middle-aged (which would be my age now, eek) gay couple, and it ticked off the entire subway car.

First of all, dude, if you’re shrieking, angry, and generally incomprehensible, you are not a good ad for your religion. Whatever it is that drives you to scream at the top of your lungs till the veins in your neck pop out is just not compelling. You are like a religion “don’t.”

Second, it’s not illegal to be gay. I don’t care what you believe — it is not illegal, so shut it down. Also, while we’re on the subject, it’s a normal, ordinary part of life. It’s just not that big of a deal. However, it has go tot be illegal to harass passengers on a subway. I am going to figure out how to take your picture and your name and send it to 311, because you are a subway bully.

There are so many levels that I couldn’t stand this ride. I realize no particular demographic owns the monopoly on prejudice, but let’s think things through logically — if you’re not white, you have at some point in life, at very least, been verbally abused because of your race. If nothing else, experiences like that can be useful in that they help us become empathetic to those suffering similar experiences. Right? Duh? Minority to minority?

And then there is the religious righteousness aspect to it — dude, there just some people on earth drawn to the culture of harsh judgments, abrasive punishment, and generally douche-baggy behavior. They seem like people at war at all times.

If you watch True Blood, season two (which I just watched, loved) portrays a similarly hyper-negative culture of religion, and Sookie, who is a believer, presents a positive version of it all, and shares her beliefs of a religion where the divine is loving and forgiving. That sounds so much more sane to me.

Parents Just Don’t Understand

Today, I remembered this song, and for some reason, it made me excited for the day Baby will say that to me. To which, I will respond, “WHAT, PARENTS DON’T UNDERSTAND? YOU, YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND. I DON’T THINK KIDS UNDERSTAND.” Hee hee.

No one belongs here more than you

Miranda July is an artist who writes fiction (book was nominated for a Frank O’Connor Award), makes movies, acts in them, creates conceptual art installations. She produces her own work. She dresses weird, like she’s the kind of hipster who deliberately dresses ugly and yet still looks fashionable (much like M.I.A. looks great in all those hideous, 80s era Reebok, splatter paint sweat ensembles). I’ve only read her short stories, which I liked, but sometimes find their quirkiness exhausting, but either way, she’s an artist, man. I admire her versatility and dude, she comes up with amazing titles.

Celebrities Who Remind Us of Our Son

For me, that’s an easy one. As Baby’s personality has begun to emerge, I feel like the lead singer of Aerosmith has moved in with us. Wild man, bachelor rocker antics abound.

* He can trash a room in seconds. Every square foot of our home is strewn with toys, Tupperware, chewed-up newspaper, mystery food, whatever Baby can get his little paws on and fling with a vengeance.

* He wails and shakes his head, as if in a drunken frenzy. Alarming, when one of his previously charming traits was his utter lack of sound.

* He bites. So far, only my elbow, shoulder, and chin have fallen victim, which makes me laugh. I’ve since read this is precisely the wrong parental reaction since this encourages nibbling humans.

* He stays up all night. So far this week, he has woken up regularly at 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 in the morning. Sleep training seems to have made nighttime sleep worse, if you can believe it (though naps have improved). I think we did it wrong by being lax in our approach, so I am attempting to start the whole process over again tonight. Yay!

* He’s a judge on American Idol. Ha ha. This part is obviously not so true, but if it were, I would be J. Lo and Husband would be Randy “Dawg, I like you, but that was a little pitchy” Jackson in this scenario. I think that’s wholly fair.

While Husband doesn’t actively think of comparing Baby to celebrities the way I do, he does refer to Baby as “Ed Asner” on occasion. This is based on the noises Baby makes in his sleep. Husband always cautions, “Don’t wake up Ed Asner,” which cracks me up.

P.S. Baby has begun to walk. (Eeek!)

P.P.S. Formula smells disgusting. Husband said it smells like Old Cheese, I say it smells like Dog, this other dad from day care says it smells like Wet Dog. Clearly, Wet Dog is the winner.