Boiled down, it means Chua – and by extension, other Chinese moms – is tough on her kids, far tougher than most Westerners are on theirs. Translated, that means excellence and success in everything is expected. Anything less than an “A” in school is unacceptable; anything less than a gold medal or first place is failure.
Thankfully, my mother – who turns 72 this year – is nothing like the demanding, overbearing mother Chua stereotypes.
That’s not to say mom doesn’t have her moments.
There is a (justified) view that Chinese parents are very demanding. When you’re one in a billion, you do what it takes to stand out. You push, push, push. That carries over to Chinese immigrants to America, most of whom are willing to sacrifice anything and everything for their children.
Not that non-Chinese folks aren’t. It just seems Chinese people take it another notch or three.
Was mom a loving, doting mom? Of course. I am the baby of the family, after all.
Mom was never as tough on us three kids as other Chinese parents were on theirs. Oh, sure, she and dad expected us to do our very best and not to be satisfied with anything less. But we weren’t put in a corner or locked in a room, we weren’t verbally or physically abused, we weren’t denied food.
Clearly, I was not denied food.
Anyway, mom is a firecracker still, at 4-foot-9 and 90 pounds. Oh, yes, I still have a healthy respect for her, as any child should have of his mother.
I lost my older sister – and she, her one and only daughter – two months ago. Now I have those talks with mom she used to have with Elaine.
So that bond we created 43 years ago now is stronger than ever.
Mom isn’t a tiger at all. She was born a dragon in the Chinese calendar, and the descriptions couldn’t be more fitting: “self-assured and quick-tempered ... a bundle of energy ... confident, fearless in the face of a challenge.”
Yes, she’s all that and more. And why “Happy Mother’s Day” never meant more.