Satire Non-Fiction posted January 25, 2011

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True confessions of a Tiger Dad...

Tiger Mom: Been There, Done That

by another jim

(Please see author notes!)

I don't know about you, but I've heard so much about these so-called Chinese-American Tiger Moms in the past few days that it makes me want to...well, scream. At my kids, especially. You know, for having the temerity to survive for nine months inside my wife's uterus, sapping her energy and siphoning off whatever nutrition happened to come their way. Damned selfish brats.

Well, listen up, Tiger Moms: The nation of your parents' birth may own everything the eye can take in from the observation deck of the Empire State Building, but that doesn't mean you've cornered the market on cruel and unusual parenting. Bring it on, I say! Rest assured, we've all had plenty of practice in that department, too, not to mention some pretty terrific role models.

Take my mom and dad. (Please!) They spent a lifetime belittling my sisters and me for the pettiest of offenses. We're all better people because of it, of course; it shows in our rugged self-discipline, unusual tolerance for pain, and utter lack of empathy for others (a sure sign of human weakness). Don't believe me when I say we're better off? Well, you can ask my oldest sister when she's granted parole next month...assuming they'll let you speak to her at the halfway house.

But I digress.

When I was a kid, if I ever came home from school with anything less than an A-plus—like an A, for example—I was immediately stripped of my privileges and made to study harder. Of course, I had very few privileges to begin with, because I'd lost most of them at a tender age for refusing to poop in the potty on demand. Still, there were things that I feared losing even more as I got older, things like driving a car, having a girlfriend, or getting a glass of water when I needed one... You know, it's amazing how easy it is to get straight A's when you're very, very thirsty.

I remember the time I forgot to take our little Shih Tzu out for his walk before school. Yes, Tiger Mom, unlike your kids, I was allowed to have pets—like those tropical fish, the ones Dad sautéed in butter because I forgot to feed them once. Anyhow, the dog... I don't think he was real happy, having to share his Kibbles 'n' Bits with me for the better part of the next year. But guess what? I never forgot to walk him after that, including the time I walked him into the woods, tied him to a tree, and left him there to commune with his ancestors, the coyotes. Hey, you're the one who said it was a dog-eat-dog world out there, not me.

You say you made your kids learn a musical instrument? Piano or violin? And they had to become virtuosos in one or the other, which is why you drilled them for hours on end and insisted on perfection before they'd be allowed to go to bed each night?

Pfft. My kid sister was forced to play both the piano and violin—at the same time. Impossible, you say? Tell that to her orthopedic surgeon, the one who removed those calluses from the toes on her left foot. He's the same guy, by the way, that fixed the crushed vertebrae in my neck after the tuba slipped as I was playing Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue on the clarinet. That little foul-up cost me my weekly phone call privilege for six months.

I hear you called your daughter "garbage" after she treated you in a disrespectful manner. Reminds me of the time my folks took my sisters and me to the local landfill to pick out our birthday presents. They used to buy something nice for us, like a second-hand TI calculator or a set of used encyclopedias. But then my sister got mouthy and complained about her birthday cake—fine, it was a birthday meatloaf and she didn't like onions—and that was the end of that. But happy ending alert! I did find a nice backpack that day in the dump, though it took a while to get rid of the fleas that were living in it. Funny, I thought for sure the maggots would have devoured them.

Your daughters are allowed no TV? No movies? No video games? No school plays? Hmmm. Like my good friend Big Bird used to sing, "One of these things is not like the others..." Speaking of Big Bird, do you know our parents made us watch Sesame Street for three hours each day? That's three! Three! Three hours each day! Bwah ha ha ha ha! Each of us could recite the alphabet by the time we could talk, and count to one hundred by the age of two. We could also eat an entire box of cookies in under twenty seconds. And to this day, whenever I pass by a trash can, I can't help but feel oddly grouchy...

I'll bet you think you're preparing your kids for the future by making them work hard for food and drink, bathroom privileges, and their parents' love. And you may be right. The thing is, if that's what the future holds, then I'd rather go live in that landfill I mentioned a while back. Hey...maybe I can find a nice bicycle for my son's birthday while I'm there.


"Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" is a recently-published memoir written by a Chinese-American woman named Amy Chua. It describes her rather unconventional--and, some might say, Draconian--approach to raising her two young daughters. Just thought I'd have a little fun with it...

BTW, my little "Sesame Street" riff will make no sense if you've never watched the show, and for that I apologize.

Thanks for reading!
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