Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tiger Babies Strike Back

A couple of years ago I reviewed Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua  (You can read my review here).  There was (and still is) much controversy surrounding this book, but I found it a fascinating memoir of someone who was doing the best she knew how with her children.  I did not agree with every choice she made as a mother, but I learned a lot about myself and, I believe, became a better mother because of her book.  And maybe not in the way you might think.  I mostly admired her absolute dedication to helping her children succeed.  I didn't always think her methods were the best, but I was inspired by her work ethic and devotion to her job as a mother.

That said, I never once believed that Chua's book was some sort of parenting manual or treatise on why Chinese parenting is superior.  That is what the media portrayed it to be, but it was a memoir.  A memoir written by a mother who might have different ideas about parenting than you or I.  A mother who, in the end, realized that perhaps some of her methods weren't working so well--that her children were not the same person and she couldn't parent them identically and achieve identical results.

Tiger Babies Strike Back by Kim Wong Keltner is billed as a rebuttal to Chua's memoir.  It is a memoir itself, though written in a much different style.  Keltner is quite humorous, and uses her humor to draw the reader in.  I'm not really sure it's much of a rebuttal, either.  To me, it showed that Keltner had a different sort of personality--more sensitive, soft, and gentle--than her stoic Chinese mother did.  I don't think this sort of situation is necessarily unique to Chinese American families.  I think as parents, if we are not careful, we can parent in a way that does not honor our children and their unique personalities.

I do find it exhausting sometimes that I need to be more gentle and sensitive with one child, more fun for another, and more active with the other one.  It's easier to just parent how I want to, without regard to my children, but the results aren't usually what I hope for.  The author of this memoir just wanted a mother who understood her, and didn't feel she had that sort of a mother.

And really, this memoir doesn't harp on the whole Tiger Mom vs. Tiger Baby point too much.  It is funny and insightful as she writes about her life after marriage and the parenting of her own child.  The book is written in short, always comedic, chapters and is a quick read. I don't think you need to have read the Tiger Mother book to find good insights and a lot of entertainment reading in the Tiger Babies book.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

May at Overstuffed

Wow.  It's been nearly a month since I have blogged.  I actually really miss blogging and wish I could find the time to sit down and really write like I used to do.  For now, some photos and video of the last month will have to suffice.

Chicago flight

The last time I posted, I mentioned how my mother was flying in to bring the sunshine to the UP.  The day that she flew up, we were expecting another gigantor snowstorm, named  Zeus.  I was so worried her flight wouldn't make it in and that she would be stranded for days in the Chicago airport.  The weather forecast kept changing slightly, and the storm was expected later and later.  Well, it started snowing pretty hard just after she took off in Chicago.  They were told that if they couldn't land in Hancock, they would simply turn around and fly back to Chicago.

I obsessively watched the little flight tracker online.  Can you see that monstrous storm?  The blue was snow, and the green was rain.  You can also see that there was a little tiny pocket of no storm action right where the airport is.  I consider it a miracle.  They landed without incident (well, unless you count how my mom lost her watch and stayed on the plane to look for it and then was locked out of our tiny airport and how I sort of freaked out that she didn't seem to be on the flight), and I had my mommy here for a few days.

The storm began in earnest shortly after we got home from the airport, and we woke up to another winter wonderland.  Well, we were already in a winter wonderland, it was just whiter now.  We had had so many snow days already that I wasn't surprised to see that school wasn't cancelled, but it really should have been since the streets hadn't even been plowed yet!

Because this is the bus that my children ride. (I did not take this picture; it was being shared feverishly on Facebook that day and made it onto the front page of our local paper the next day.) It never actually showed up to our stop--this is the stop a couple blocks before ours--and we ended up having to take the girls to school.  Would a two hour delay have killed anyone?  No.  But trying to have the buses run in this weather might have.  Yes.  I was angry.  Onto more pleasant subjects...

My mother really did bring the sunshine.  The rest of the week was gorgeous.
Sophia at recital

We went to see Bria play in the advanced student recital.  She played the Allegro from the Vivaldi Concerto in g minor.  (I love how she dealt with the music falling off of her stand at the end there--I thought I might go up to help her, but I knew she would never forgive me, and she managed just fine!)

The snow began to melt.  We even had a picnic table sighting in the backyard!
picnic table sighting

Then we had to say good-bye to Mamah.  Her visits are never quite long enough.  I felt like I hardly got to see her because I had to work so much while she was here, but I sure appreciate her coming out  to help me and spend time with the girls.
Goodbye Mamah

The day after Mamah left it hit 70 degrees!  We still had a ton of snow, but we got to go on a lovely walk with Puccini.
70 degrees
And Sophia enjoyed laying herself out in the oppressive heat (seriously, we were dying!).
Sophia is hot

All of the snow did finally melt.  We had so many nice days all in a row, that it actually melted too fast and our basement couldn't quite handle it.  Big flood.  It's under control now, don't worry!  And, no snow!

The main reason I haven't blogged is because, even though I'm done teaching "spring" semester, I have so much music to learn/memorize/practice for Pine Mountain.  I am putting in a good 3-4 hours daily of practice and I'm still nervous about being totally ready for June 5 to roll around.  I'm so thankful for the opportunity, though, and I am really loving immersing myself in music.  I'm such a lucky girl. 
Viva Verdi

The girls played in their first family recital.  It wasn't easy finding something that worked for their very different levels of playing, and it REALLY wasn't easy getting them to practice together happily.  I have a new found respect for Maria Von Trapp and the Osmonds and any other family music group because OH MY HECK doing one little number nearly killed me!
IMG_6217 girls web
But, they did so well when it was all said and done!  We will do it again, and though it may kill me, it will be worth it!

Then there was Mother's Day.  I sure love Mother's Day!  I was spoiled with a new dress, lots of cards and school-made gifts from the girls, breakfast in bed, and my favorite gourmet dinner.
my mom sings opera
From the Mother's Day book Sophia made at school. 
Even though we woke up to a few inches of snow on Mother's Day morning (don't worry, it was all gone by the end of the day), I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful day.
mothers day 2013

Or more wonderful children.