It being holiday time, I’ve treated self to a new book. Ever a sucker for punishment, this
year’s holiday’s reading material is “Battle Cry of the Tiger Mother”, by Amy Chua. You may have heard of it: high-achieving (“pushy”, according to the reviews) Chinese-American mother encourages (“forces”) her children’s natural talents, eschewing the Western parenting model (“letting your kids stomp all over you” – actually, that last bit is my own interpretation).
Sounds perfectly sensible to me, and if I only had the energy to encourage / dominate, I too would turn my back on being treated as a slave by my ungrateful offspring. Since the arrival of the Girl however, I have been less Tiger, more Tigger. For reasons I don’t quite understand, this seems to have come to a head during our vacation. Perhaps the Boy (for he is the main culprit; the Girl can’t really be expected to do much for herself – yet) senses that unless he’s fully on his guard “Mommy” (he’s started to speak American) may actually start to - shudder – enjoy herself.
The enslavement starts first thing in the morning when he clambers on my head roaring WAKEY WAKEY, followed quickly by WHERE’S-MY-CHAIR and TURN-ON-TEEVEEE. (Our hosts here have set up a tv in our room, which we have yet to find the time to turn on for our own entertainment; the Boy, on the other hand, is making up for our lack of effective time-management, and is glued to it at every opportunity). So natch, I roll out of bed, stumble about in the living room looking for the mini wicker chair which acts as the lazy boy's lazy-boy, drag it back into our room, line it with my bed pillows, and turn on the telly. SESAME-STREET! he barks, and I leap for the remote control. A couple of Letters of the Day later he realises he’s hungry. CHEESE-ON-TOAST! JUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUICE! Off I scuttle. (All this while the poor starving Girl is sitting placidly in a corner somewhere, her good patient behaviour being rewarded by a guilty smile thrown in her direction while I run past on another errand for King Boy.).
And so the day continues. SOMETHING-IN-MY-SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOE; BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! (or, more likely now: BUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGG!); and the most impressive visually - because it comes with a display of histrionics usually only seen on the Jeremy Kyle show - HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIR!!!!!!!!!, complete with gagging sounds, spitting, and more often than not, the be-haired tongue being rubbed against my legs. The other evening he sat at the table, refusing to eat any dinner (“NO-DINNER-NO-DINNER-ICE-CREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAMMMMMMM”) and the Man offered to get him some water. “Yes water, Mommy do it.” Man goes to stand up - “Daddy will do it” – “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! NOT DADDY! MOMMMMMMMMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” and so I stopped feeding the Girl (mid-spoonful) and pranced off to the fridge, feckign eejit that I am, as my mother would say.
But this worm is planning on turning. Let’s not kid ourselves - I am never going to be a Tiger Mother (could you imagine the reception the Boy would get in her house? She’d have him baking his own bread for cheese on toast, weaving a whole set of matching wicker chairs, and categorising the type genus of the
insect bug which had crossed his path) but I’ve recently spied the opening of a teeny window of opportunity. He’s at that age when he thinks that some bits of house-work are fun. Arm him with a dustpan and brush and a filthy kitchen floor, and you’re guaranteed to have at least 3 minutes to yourself. (This may be somewhat negated by the 33 minutes you subsequently spend looking for the brush [“in the bin, Silly Billy!”] and then cleaning up the soil swept up outside and brought inside – but we’re getting there). My thinking is that if I can channel his focus, then maybe I can share the burden of domestic toil, alleviate my own subjugated position, and perhaps even make it to house-cat-mother status.
Speaking of which, the holidays continue and I’m still not cooking. In fact, I don’t even have to think about it. Bliss. The kids get put to bed and by the time we stagger out, destroyed from the physical effort, mental savagery and emotional bribery, there’s a drink waiting for us, a set table, and something cooking in the oven. I think this is probably the best holiday ever. For a slave, that is.