Back at the piano, Lulu made me pay. She punched, thrashed and kicked. She grabbed the music score and tore it to shreds. I taped the score back together and encased it in a plastic shield so that it could never be destroyed again. Then I hauled Lulu's dollhouse to the car and told her I'd donate it to the Salvation Army piece by piece if she didn't have "The Little White Donkey" perfect by the next day. When Lulu said, "I thought you were going to the Salvation Army, why are you still here?" I threatened her with no lunch, no dinner, no Christmas or Hanukkah presents, no birthday parties for two, three, four years. When she still kept playing it wrong, I told her she was purposely working herself into a frenzy because she was secretly afraid she couldn't do it. I told her to stop being lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic.
Jesus Christ, lady. It's the fucking "Little White Donkey," not lifesaving surgery. What the fucking fuck? And for the record, she's not being self-indulgent, you are. You're the one that wants to hear "Little White Donkey," not her.
Clearly there are cultural differences at play and maybe us dumb Westerners just don't understand and I guess if you raise a child like this they probably will get good grades or whatever but I can't help but wonder at what cost.
Amy Chua says her children were never allowed to be in a school play (or, for that matter, "complain about not being in a school play"). Guess Amy Chua's daughters aren't going to be actresses! Sorry if I'm being snarky but I guess my point is if you shove kids into a super-rigid way of life that you control all the parameters of and don't let them do anything that you haven't planned for ahead of time, I can't help but think that they're maybe not going to develop a creative side the same way a kid who's maybe not treated like a trained dog would.
It's complicated and there are loads of cultural issues I'm sure I'm not sensitive to, but I kind of have a visceral reaction to calling a 7-year-old "pathetic."
UPDATE!!!!!!!!!!! - As commenter Amy suggests, as it turns out, there is more to the story than we originally thought. Apparently Law Professor Amy Chua spoke with columnist Jeff Yang over on SFGate and said, basically, that the article painted an unfair picture:
"I was very surprised," she says. "The Journal basically strung together the most controversial sections of the book. And I had no idea they'd put that kind of a title on it. But the worst thing was, they didn't even hint that the book is about a journey, and that the person at beginning of the book is different from the person at the end -- that I get my comeuppance and retreat from this very strict Chinese parenting model."
So there you go. Maybe it was taken out of context or whatever. I still maintain that calling a 7-year-old "pathetic" is not cool. That said, I also agree with Amy and fellow commenter Verbal Cupcake that many American parents aren't anything to write home about either. I guess there's got to be a middle ground between borderline child abuse and breezy abdication.
Anyway, I don't know if V.C. has kids, but I don't think Amy does, so let's all chat about this again when we all have kids. I feel sort of uncomfortable judging any parent from my childless perch. I'll do it; I just feel a little uncomfortable about it. That is all.