Sunday, January 23, 2011

My inner Tiger Mom

We have until 8am Thursday morning to get everything packed and ready for the movers. And we both have to work this week except for Thursday and Friday. Am I panicking? Well, kind of, but then I have been for the last few days. And I'm having insomnia. It's amazing what one can think of while lying in bed for hours with nothing to do but think.

Yesterday I dug up the bamboo that the buyers don't want and put them into big, temporary plastic pots to take to our new house. I also dug up the Mountain Ash my friend, Libby gave me a couple years ago - that I told the buyers I'd be taking. I'm concerned about both plants and how well they'll do with the transition. I always err on the side of treating my plants like they're the most delicate things in the world, but after working one day with my friend, Michelle, filling in to help with landscaping I'm not quite as worried. But still, I don't know how much damage or trauma the roots can take with transplanting, or if they'll get too cold in the pots between now and next week when I have time to plant them. I guess we'll see.

I was complaining to my mom about being neurotic about the treated wood fence and steps from the porch at our new house and she said, "Wait, let me ask your dad if they still use arsenic," then came back and said, "He said it's very unlikely that they used arsenic treated wood on a residential deck within the last five years." To which I said, "But are the other treatments safe?" and I heard her say, "Are the new treatments environmentally safe?" and I heard him in the background say, "No," and my mom said, "Well, there you go then." See, honestly, when I'm this stressed out I always find something to obsess on and this is apparently that issue.

A topic of conversation amongst moms on the internet these days is the whole Tiger Mom thing from a recent book by Amy Chau. I haven't read the book but it sounds a lot different from how I parent because I'm all about letting my child grow into who she is and decide what it is she is interested in. But at the same time a part of me sees its popularity and even having a niche in our society right now because of the popularity of treating children like if we discipline them they'll shatter and if we give them direction it will repress them. It's like the extreme backlash to the extreme backlash of not parenting that is popular at least in my city.

So, I'm seeing where in ways I have my own Tiger Mom ways - even though I would never insult or demean my child on purpose (yes, once or twice like all parents I have snapped and yelled, "Stop it! What is wrong with you!" and then immediately had to apologize for saying something mean and explaining I was cranky and should've expressed myself better by saying, "That's not appropriate and I want you to stop.")

Anyway ... when I get in large groups of kids I realize that I expect a lot more self-control than most parents do and will go out of my way to teach and expect that and sometimes I think it is offending other parents because it seems like I expect things that are beyond age appropriate abilities or something. I'm not sure if that is because my daughter naturally has a lot of self-control and is advanced in that area so I'm spoiled and have gotten used to that or if it's because I've been having high expectations of her from the start and showing her how to do it. When I say self-control I mean not throwing tantrums in public and when I say "stop doing something" she stops doing it instead of stopping for a second and then starting to do it again.

Usually it's around safety issues but sometimes it's around etiquette issues. But it's also very important in our family because of the things my daughter wants to do. At seven years old she can now make pancakes (under supervision of course) all the way from measuring, mixing, pouring the batter onto the griddle and flipping the pancakes. Without self-control that would be way too dangerous for her. But I was thinking this morning that in our society teaching that level of self-control to a first grader is generally frowned upon as "too repressive".

Of course, on the flipside she does get to jump on the couch (one couch - not the good couch in the living room) and she does get to sing and make kitty noises and be loud as long as I'm not on the phone and no one in the house has a migraine. And she and her friends get to run around the house screaming at the top of their lungs on playdates and play the piano (horribly) if they want. So, hopefully I'm not actually a Tiger Mom. But I do see sometimes how I'm way more strict than the norm and I wonder about it. Is it beneficial because my daughter can do things that would otherwise not be age appropriate because she has good self-discipline - or is it going to come back and bite me in the butt when she goes totally wild as a teenager to rebel against me? I guess we'll see. And then again, it bodes to the question of "is it her upbringing or her personality?" if she turns out well-adjusted, independent and happy?

In other things I've been thinking about, there was apparently a suicide in my old neighborhood that was partially from angst over cyber-bullying. An old friend who still lives in that neighborhood has been emailing with me about it. I'm not sure if the internet makes bullying worse or if the impersonalness of it makes people's collective IQ's (and EQ's) plummet. For instance, there is an forum in my neighborhood for posting things (I think originally it was meant to talk about neighborhood events) but it has devolved into this small group of people who post things throughout the day every day and if someone new posts something that they can squeeze some sort of mockery out of they will. Doesn't matter what it is - it can be completely community related and these people will type something mean-spirited and nasty to try and ... I don't know. Look cool? Make people laugh at the stranger's expense? It is really disturbing on many levels because I know that most of these people are in their 30's and 40's and yet are acting online like bitchy little teenagers. The latest thread that popped up yesterday was one of the guys at an airport out of town making fun of an overweight prostitute. Everyone posted in response all their LOL's and all I could think was, "That is a human you're making fun of - someone's daughter, maybe someone's mother. Do you really feel so superior that if you can taunt someone so viciously with absolutely no remorse?" I think that is what finally convinced me I must not read internet comment forums. Especially not ones from my new neighborhood because they seem to attract the most immature of messed up people even if a few normal people try to read/post there. I'll have to keep an eye on what goes on when my daughter is old enough to be on the internet social networking sites. From the get go I want her to know that it is a great place for people to act their worst for some strange reason and never to take it personally.

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