Two reasons for this post
1. A reader send me the link for a mallu movie Mummy and me
2. Amy Chua’s latest book Battle hymn of the tiger mother.
Let us start with the movie.
I have a very similar mother, who used to go through my stuff, my letters etc all on the pretext of making sure that no harm ever happens to me ( being a girl child, it was up to my mother to protect me from all the big bad wolf).
Even when Amma was with me here last year, she still went through my mail, went to Yaya’s room while Yaya and I were out and routinely went through my daughter’s school bag, driving her nuts.
My living room had bay windows and if I sit on my day bed, you can stand outside and see what I am doing on the computer. Every time my mother opened the grill, I knew she was going out to look through the window to see who I am talking to/chatting or whatever.. By the way, I am 39 years old!! The moment Amma opens the grill, I just turn around and face the other way..
I am a mother of two girls and a boy. I can’t imagine doing the same thing to my children. I have only checked my son’s email once cause I really wanted to know who his latest crush was and was caught red handed by him! Yaya has her own pre paid handphone. . She knows I can access her phone records any time. The same with emails. All three of them had to write their log in name and password in an email and send it to me. But I don’t check their mail.
I have raised them to be honest. I hope, they will tell me when they have a relationship. if they don’t, there is nothing much I can do, is there? Can I keep them home, check all their emails and phone calls in the hope that they won’t have any relationship till they get married? It is not possible. As a mother, especially an east Indian mother, that was probably one of the toughest reality of mothering in the 21st century I had to accept.
Give them the freedom to choose ( teach them what is right and what is wrong), at the same time, keep all my fingers crossed hoping that they won’t make wrong choices, knowing that I will still stand by them if they made a wrong choice.
Coming to Amy Chua’s book, I lived half of my life in Malaysia, so I know how Chinese mother’s push their children. I will never call my children Garbage. They are loved way too much to be categorized as garbage, even though I was called stupid by my mother deaf and dumb and blind by my sisters more often than I can count. I think calling children names should be considered as an offence. Just because you gave birth to them, doesn’t give you the rights to demean them.
I am a perfectionist. I didn’t inherit that from my mother. I was born that way. When Yaya was about two years old, she wanted to write her name. So I bought her a feint ruled book, so I could teach her to write. She was holding the pencil the wrong way. Yes, I am a doctor and I know at the age of 2 a child doesn’t have enough fine motor skills. But still I tried..Yaya, threw the pencil down and told me she didn’t want to learn to write. I learned my lesson. It is ok to be a perfectionist.. So long as I am the only one who needs to be one. I can’t force my perfectionism to my children.
All three of my children are intelligent on their own accord. Last year Baby had issues with home work. Her home work is due on Friday and three weeks in a row, she submitted it incomplete. She had two warnings and the third time I had to meet the teacher. I explained to the teacher that i want my daughter to take responsibility. I will not tell her to do her home work. If I was going to do that, it was never going to end and my child will rely on me to tell her to do things. Yaya and toothless come back from school, watch tv for 30 minutes, then do their home work. it wasn’t that baby wasn’t aware of the fact that she needed to do her home work. She just decided not to do it and I felt she should face the consequences. The teacher told her that the next time she will be send to the Principal’s office..that was it. That is all it took her to make sure that she completed her work.
Sleep overs were something I was afraid of. I worried so much when Yaya had to go for a sleep over. But I chose to live outside India and why should I force on my children an Indian upbringing when I didn’t want to live in India?
I wanted each of my children to learn an instrument. Not because I wanted them to play in Carnegie Hall, but because I felt every child should know how to swim, skate,dance and play an instrument. There is no set hours they have to practice and I didn’t pick the instrument for them.
My role as a mother to my children doesn’t involve in making them perfect..My role as a mother is all about accepting their imperfections and standing by them while they make the journey in to adulthood..
Perhaps my kids won’t enter Harward. But that is ok. I didn’t have them as an extension to my ego. I had them, because i wanted them. And yes, if they do enter Harward, it is on their own accord..because they worked hard, not because their mother pushed them to work hard. I am not a tiger mother. I am a human mother, wjho loves her children more than anything on earth.