Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Dance of the Tiger Mama

Okay, I'll admit it. 

I'm a Tiger Mama.

And not a little bit of one either.

If you're not familiar with that term, you might substitute it for a helicopter parent, an "overly involved/engaged" parental influence, a very "hands on" mother.

From the time that my children were in the womb, they probably had a significant inclination that academics are very important to me.  With regard to the school experience, I value academics and the faith component of our educational environment more than anything else.

Specifically, I value the desire to voraciously read, the ability to write well, and the love of learning.

To that end, I firmly believe that every child in the world should have access to a public library and an adult who can help to get them there.

And hopefully, they also have someone or better yet, multiple someones in their life who set the bar high and expect them to achieve beyond what they personally think they are able to.

If you ask my children, they will undeniably tell you that I am "that person" in their lives.

I make no bones about it.  Their job is to go to school and to soak up as much knowledge, insight, wisdom, and information that they possibly can.  And then, when we come home, my job is to both keep them accountable for what they've learned and to provide them with opportunities to apply that knowledge in the world.

They like using their knowledge....they just don't like being accountable for it.

Like most parents, we have instant access to their grades, an amazing source of quick and helpful communication with their educators, and community resources that are abundant when it comes to helping them grasp a concept or master a skill.

What we don't have is enough fucking wine in the house when the shit hits the fan which is about every third night.

And it hits the fan because my oldest, my fourth-grader is on overload.  Like me, he's a type A, first-born who has high expectations of himself and does not want to disappoint.  But he is stubborn and he fights dirty and he has no problems with hitting below the belt.

His latest was something like:

"Fine, mom...I don't care if I fail this test.  It will be your fault.  I'll never leave my bedroom.  And you can live with how that makes you feel."


"Until my grades are suffering, leave me alone."

In both instances, he has a point.  Asserting his independence, he's essentially saying, "Back off, lady.  This is my life.  These are my grades.  I kind of kick ass.  So stop making a Federal case about it."  And in my heart I'm thinking, "You're being lazy.  If you'd just spend half a minute reviewing your work, you wouldn't make careless errors and we wouldn't be in this God foresaken boat after school. And, while we're at it, you should be thankful that you have a mom that cares so much."

Instead, we both sulk.  We exchange sharp words.  We circle the wagons.  Cut each other some slack.  And come back to the complicated, unconditionally loving, albeit, hard as hell, mother son relationship.  And we know that we'll find ourselves right back here again on Tuesday.

I used to care how other moms did it.  Now I don't.  I'm owning how I do it.  Flawed, imperfect and full of love.  Here's to the dance of the Tiger Mama.

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