Monthly Archives: July 2012

Analyze This

Here’s something interesting. By and large, I am fairly particular about the house, food , clearing up mess etc (except, of course the odd drawer that’s been stuffed with papers, pens, un-sharpened pencils, random pictures etc). I like a neat house and also like to have a decent, balanced meal for dinner. Except, and this is the weird part, when the hubby leaves town on work.

Now this is strange. When he goes out of town, all my discipline just melts into nothingness and I turn into a kid whose parents are away. I stay up late (really late) reading or watching some complete nonsense on TV (if there’d be better stuff, I’d watch it, but there isn’t), I eat Maggi for dinner (kids still eat the right stuff!) and I don’t bother with too much clearing up either.

I don’t quite understand this. I mean it’s not like I can’t do all that when he’s here or that he demands certain standards from me (he may expect them, but he never vocalizes his wishes when it comes to the house) Yet, when he’s home I want the house to be calm and neat and not resemble the hurricane-hit look that it had just an hour before he returned from work. I like to think about dinner and try and get it all done in time. But, when he’s traveling, I flip to the other side. It’s funny really and I am sure there’s some warped reason in my head for this.

One, could be that at heart, I am not as disciplined as him (and this is true). So left to my own devices, I’d stay up late, wake up late and proceed to ruin the next day, and the next. (He, on the other hand, is an early riser who plays a game of squash every morning before work). So when he leaves, I slip back into this sort-of languid zone.

The other reason could be that I just want to not think about the house for a few days and let things be. I want to look at the papers mixed up with magazines and the felt-pens without their caps and say “darn it”, I am just going to sink into my Maggi soup and my book and ignore the world around me. There’s immense comfort in doing that.

Having said that, now for a word or two in my defense. The fact also is that if he’s gone for more than, say, three days, I get tired of being the recalcitrant kid who’s not being watched and start to berate myself for my indolence. I turn off the idiot box, resist playing Fruit Ninja on my iPad and also don’t read till too late (in the previous three days, I do all three!) I also eat right after the second day (more because I start to worry about the return of the inches).

However, I then go into a cleaning over-drive and spend the next morning cleaning like a possessed-woman. I then tire myself out and get cranky. I also get no work done (am a freelance writer) and then press the panic button. All because I let myself slip for a couple of days!

And, when I speak to the hubby over the phone, he’s more disciplined than ever. Agh.

When he returns, however, the house is as it was when he left and reveals no vestige of the scene that was played just the night before! I never tell him, of course, because he will wonder why this is so – and we don’t like all this wondering and analyzing now, do we?

It has nothing to do with him, but it kind of makes it hard to defend when such behavior coincides with his departure. The best I can say is that because I am not half as disciplined as he is, I don’t want to exactly rub that fact in his face!!

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Am I a tiger mom?

Not sure. Husband says there’s no question that I am. Needless to say, I differ. Er, I think I am pretty much like any other mom I know, is what I say to that.

So is every mom a tiger mom? Well, no. When I say other moms, I kind of use it loosely. Not ALL the moms around me are tiger moms, but, most of my mommy-friends are, at any rate. Husband’s answer to that is that like attracts like and that we get along (mainly) because our parenting methods are similar.

You see this whole debate started after I read the Amy Chua book (you guessed it). There are only two things that can happen when you read it (for those who don’t know what I am talking about, it’s ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’.) You will either flip the book over your shoulder and declare her as insane, overbearing and completely nuts, or, you will start to seriously doubt your parenting style and whip yourself into a frenzy for not pushing your kids enough. I don’t know about you, but the latter kind of happened to me. Don’t get me wrong, I do think she’s waaaay out there, but, I did end up wondering if I was being too soft on my older daughter and got into the whole you-got-to-fight-the-rat-race mode. The debate is endless and really there’s no right or wrong in this. It all depends on what you think is right for your kid, the definition of which is not a constant and could keep changing as you discover and learn with your kid.

My point is, and this is where I agree with her, that kids don’t know better when they are 5 or 6. They are not in a position to judge what’s best for them. Neither will they sit at a piano for five hours a day if it wasn’t for someone (usually the bad cop, i.e. mom) making them do it using coaxing, love, threats, deprivation, whatever works. So, if this kid ends up becoming a world class pianist, or let’s forget her example and say that if this kid ends up getting high grades, excelling at school and moving onto better colleges, then is that a bad thing?

Also, I think as parents we get too caught up in what the kid will say when he or she is older. Of course, there will be complaints (you didn’t allow me sleepovers, TV, blah blah – both of which Amy’s kids were not allowed btw) but then what is to say that the kid won’t complain in the reverse case? I know kids who’ve blamed their bad grades and lack of reading habits on their parents years after they grew up.

So, what the children will say is not something one can be sure of. As parents I guess we have to strike the middle ground. Except the reality is this: if you have to excel in anything, anything at all, you gotta work at it. And if you have to work at it, it’s going to lead to tears and this is what you need to steel yourself for. The world’s a tough place and you need to toughen up your kids for the immense competition that lies ahead.

My kids are young right now, so I am not sure how much of a tiger mom I will be. I can’t say that I have not been affected by this book. I have made sure that my daughter is ahead of her class in reading (math I am working on). And you know what, she loves it, she loves the fact that she’s better than the rest (or, so she thinks!). It gives her encouragement to stay on the top, something that’s more difficult to do than getting there.

So am I a tiger mom? Maybe. But I need to get better. If my kids have to get anywhere in life, I’ve got a part to play in it. So beware kiddos, I just turned the button a notch higher!

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