I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
May 31, 2011
The last time my inner Tiger Mom made an appearance was at Punky’s first grade awards program.
While all of the children sang two songs as a group, a few individual kids had been chosen to step up to the microphone and announce each selection. I was trying my best to simply enjoy the show… but my inner Tiger Mom was making that impossible.
Why wasn’t Punky chosen to introduce a song? she hissed in my head. What do those kids have that she doesn’t? You really need to work with her on her speaking skills!
“Don’t be ridiculous,” I murmured through gritted teeth. I smiled at Punky up on the stage and she grinned happily back. My kid didn’t care. So why should I?
But Tiger Mom wasn’t giving up that easily.
As the singing ended and the awards began, she was more vicious than ever, booing when Punky wasn’t voted Best Citizen and screeching in dismay when my daughter narrowly missed the top reader award. I thought of all the books Punky had read- three a day sometimes- and dug my fingernails deep into the palms of my hands. My inner Tiger Mom laughed approvingly.
Next year, we’ll work even harder, she promised, her voice quivering with rage. We’ll take that award next year and our honor will be restored. RESTORED, I tell you!
“Shut up!” I whispered.
“Excuse me?” said a mom beside me.
I paused. “What up?” I said finally. She stared at me. “What up, girlfriend?” I repeated. She snorted and looked away.
Tiger Mom was at it again.
I have always been competitive, which is not entirely a bad thing. Correctly harnessed, my competitiveness has spurred me on to to do some things I’m really proud of. As a parent, though, my competitive streak is actually a liability- especially when there’s an excellent chance that neither of my children have inherited it.
Certainly, Punky wasn’t feeling the wrath of her own personal Tiger Kid as she stood on the stage. She smiled with pleasure when her friends received their special awards. The only thing that would have upset her on that day was if her dad and I hadn’t been there.
I constantly remind myself of these things as I watch my daughter fall behind while riding bikes with friends or write her letters and numbers backward. I tell myself that her father and I know she’s special, and so does her teacher, and so do her grandparents. I review the facts over and over again in my mind: Punky is a very happy child. Punky loves to learn. Punky will spend the rest of her life feeling pressure and that pressure doesn’t need to start in first grade.
But Tiger Mom is always lurking, always ready to take advantage of my weaker moments. And the truth is, I suspect I’m not the only one she’s bothering. I think most every mother has at least a little bit of Tiger Mom in her, regardless of who she is or where she came from. We all secretly want our kids to be the best…
At absolutely everything.
I’ve seen Tiger Mom’s distinctive mark in graded school projects that have clearly benefited from a “helping hand.” I’ve heard Tiger Moms at soccer games, when otherwise mild-mannered women scream at refs and coaches over “bad” decisions. I’ve witnessed dozens of Tiger Moms emerge at kids’ competitions and award ceremonies– they’re the tight-lipped, fidgety ones sitting up front, talking to no one until the winning names have been called.
Don’t blame us. Blame our inner Tiger Mom.
I really need to figure out how to shut mine up once and for all.
Image via Peter Harrison/Flickr