Sweaty palms, butterflies. It’s 1984. I am waiting for Mr. Anders, our biology teacher, to call out the first name. He always returned tests in the order of best grade to worst. I want so badly to be the first name. He says that the highest grade was a ninety-nine and a half. And then he says it … my name!
Elation is quickly replaced by personal disappointment at the small mistake I made that took that half point away. I’d studied. I took mental pictures of all the diagrams and my notes, but I missed that minute nuance.
Today, I read an article about Chinese mothers. Amy Chua has written a book about the parenting contrast between Eastern parents and Western parents. I find it all quite intriguing and am thankful for my Western upbringing.
But the most troubling part for me was identifying with the children and knowing the need to excel no matter what. The need to have that perfect 100. I had that need, and it was not prompted by my Western parents. They were always full of praise.
Is the drive innate? My parents did not push me. But I pushed myself and see elements of it in my parenting of my children. Am I the Asian mother described by Chua?
I have wanted my children to take piano, but mainly because I was never afforded the opportunity. I allowed my son to quit at 7. My daughter now struggles, but I am holding steadfast in having her continue. I have watched silently as my son chose the violin for his strings class (then silently felt a victory).
Additionally, I have overreacted at lesser grades and bought workbooks for my children or designed homework when they didn’t have any. I want them to want what I so badly wanted at their age.
Now, I’m struggling. Is what I want bad for my children? Am I becoming the Asian mother? Is there a balance that meshes the best of both?
Can I get a 100 in parenting?