Carlie, age 11
Carlie, age 12
When I first heard the fuss about Amy Chua's book, I was in complete agreement with all of my friends that, you know, this chick is whack. But as the "I am 12, deal with it" hormones have begun to takeover my previously-precious daughter the way a zombie bite infects even the most diligent zombie hater, I'm rethinking my stance on Ms. Chua's parenting style.
Case in point, Tim was helping Carlie with her homework last week on a particularly bad homework night. And he went 100% Chinese Mother on her ass. He made her erase a million times and told her to stop being lazy. She pouted. She even cried a little. But guess what? By the end of the Chinese Mother via Father torture session, she had her math homework done, understood the math concepts, and was happy that it was all finished in one sitting.
So fast forward to last night, in the midst of Week 2 of No TV and, bam, my previously-precious daughter is all, This is stupid. I want to watch TV. My homework is done. Turn on the TV. This isn't fair. Blah Blah Blah. The whole thing? Was annoying. Also? I really wanted to watch Firefly on Netflix, which made it even more annoying.
My Typical Response (aka the type of response that led us to where we are now) would have been: Well, as long as your homework is done, I guess one episode of iCarly will be okay. Good job on getting that homework done, honey! Oh, and let's not tell dad.
My Stick to Your Guns Western Mother response (aka the type of response that I strive for when caving in is just too irresponsible) would have been: We established a rule of no TV on school nights, and we need to adhere to it. There are plenty of other things to do. We can play cards, we can play a board game, we can finish making the necklaces that people have ordered from you. I understand your frustration, but this is the way it is going to be.
But behold... the genius of the Chinese Mother response (aka the type of response you get when you combine excessive sassiness and whining + mom is hungry and no plan for dinner + week three of a lot of work + week 900 of Tim not home in the evenings to help with this shit + the next episode up on Firefly sounds really good and I want to watch it tonight): Shut your mouth, now. Each time you ask to watch TV again, you are going to lose a day of watching TV on the weekend.
Which led to no more asking to watch TV (gasp!) but also led to more sassiness and negative comments about EVERYTHING** and a general bad attitude.
My Chinese Mother Response: For every negative comment you make, I am assigning you another chore. And "negative comment" includes dramatic sighing and eye rolling.
And guess what? By the end of the night the dishwasher had been unloaded. And the towels had been folded. And the towels got put away. And the kitchen counters got a thorough wiping down with disinfectant. And the kitchen got swept.
And I started to think, OMG, this kid has brain damage. She'd rather do chores than shut her sassy mouth.
And then, finally, she ran out of sass. And she asked me to help her put clasps on charm bracelets. And she apologized for being a beep. That's her exact apology. Mom, I'm sorry I was such a beep.
When Tim finally got home from work at 9 pm I decided to let them have some quality time without me, because I really needed to go mediate for a bit in my room. Or watch Firefly on my iPad. Either/or. And as I headed up the stairs, proud of my crackerjack parenting du jour, I heard Carlie say, "Dad, do you want to watch Pawn Stars?"
**As someone with a recent Facebook status of "I hate everything," it takes A LOT of her being negative to push me over the edge. I have a high threshold for it.
PS: He said no.
PPS: But do you like the way she makes it all about what dad needs after a long day at work, and not about her own desire to watch ANYTHING on TV, even if it's Pawn Stars? That kid is slick, I'll give her that.