Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Well, we've come a long way from lawn darts and BB guns. Even farther still from those days in the park when a younger and (more) malevolent version of myself played "Rock Wars" with my friends (the rules? throw rocks, either eyeball-shaped or in impossible-to-avoid handfuls, at your opponents ... or just anyone in range). Ah, what a golden summer afternoon it was that we spent smashing bottles up and down the old highway.

Now all the conversations go like this ...
Me: So you had a good weekend?

Friend: Oh, we had a *great* weekend! We *always* have a great weekend!

Me: Uh ... always? You're never glad to get back to work?

Friend: Oh, never! Never never never! I'm *always* sad to leave my kids on Monday morning.

Me: Uh huh.
My friend drives me a bit crazy with this at times, with this glorious-children stuff, with this forced-air system of inflated self-esteem. Everything is reasonable, and negotiated, and constantly fucking charming.

So of course I've been a bit fascinated by Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, where the author comes off like a power-mad Soviet Olympic coach: no tolerance for complaining, no acceptance of grades less than an A, first right of refusal on all half-assed birthday cards, threats to burn stuffed animal collections if performance continues to flag, etc.

And why is this book getting so much attention? It's called pushback. Or backlash. It's a counter response to all the everyone's-a-winner bullshit which has upset the old narrative, namely ...

1) Childhood with equal parts fun, magic, wonder, painful lessons, mild indignities and fear/consequences.

2) Struggle, poverty and romanticized adventure in your twenties.

3) Catch some breaks in your thirties.

4) Come into your own in your forties.

Not: still going to mom and dad for help in your thirties, or still living at home in your twenties. I just wonder what these people are going to do when their parents die.


  1. Life gets more challenging as you get older and more complicated and tough. I remember when I was little and didn't have a care in the world. When I hit 30- I kept thinking I was one step closer to dieing. Now I am at a point were you have to take as many chances as you can and think about happiness.

    I don't even want to think about my parents dieing.. All I want for them is to be happy and enjoy your life.

  2. You know those people who say everything is wonderful...all the time?

    They lie

  3. I, too, have those friends. The ones who lament the loss of summer because (boohoo) the kids will be gone back to school. I'm the parent marking big x's on the calendar, counting down the days until, hallelujah, the spawn will be out of my house for 5 glorious days per week. I hate PA days. I look forward to going to work for a break from the stress and hair-pulling that it offers. Did I mention, I work at an emergency crisis shelter. (Louis CK has parenting nailed, in my opinion).

  4. wow..I have the same feelings..I hate the Christmas letter with the cutesie photo montage and the litany of wonderful family we get the the grown children are so successful letters now. The year my oldest son was fired 5 times, my hubby was laid of, my dog died, my Dad died and I was working 2 jobs..I so wanted to write the anti-happy Christmas letter. I resisted..I was pretty easy going with my 2 kids. but they were not allowed to scream unless they were hurt. They were not allowed to kick the back of my car seat. We avoided the cereal aisle so there was no whining at the store..I was known to leave the cart in the cooler so I could take their whining asses home til Dad got home and I could go back and finish shopping. If they got into trouble at school..they were in trouble at home. But if they wanted to do something, play baseball, hang out under a tree all day drawing..they got to. They got to be kids..none of that playdate, lessons, every minute controlled business. I am proud to say that they are good, kind men today. They work hard, don't have a criminal record, no kids out of wedlock, no divorces or marriages..because they want to marry and stay married. They are my best friends. Something worked!

  5. Yeah if my family was like that about the kids, or even when I was a kid, I'd look at them with worried eyes. Worried it was time to put them away.

  6. I need to read this book!

  7. We don't have that problem here, it's not cool to be too cheerful, and it's considered bad form to like your children.

  8. so i'm a pisces-most of the the time our heads are up our asses.we make great parents...when we're not addicted,lookin for love-well that'll keep ya pretty busy.i luv/hate sep-back to school-they go back -so do i-i work at the school.but!!!
    call them starfish & they think u luv them(starfish =asshole)god help the day a parent catches on to me.....
    otherwise ..i blame it on mt brain disorder,,,got the paperwork-kids-it's a pass!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts