When I found out today that Tiger Mother’s cub made it to Harvard , I realized that Tiger Mother had gamed the system yet again.
I’m at work on a book these days and I know that the main thing about the publishing world in the days of dwindling budgets is that marketing is now really in the hands of the authors and not so much in the laps of publishers anymore. It’s all about creating a buzz well before a book is out. It’s also about sustaining the buzz long after the book has peaked.
Amy Chua had several slivers of meat to chew on while working on her book project: her book needed to be hotter than a freshly dead deer on the Serengeti plains; every territorial mother (Chinese, Jewish, Vietnamese, American, you name the breed) in the world needed to salivate and drool, knife in hand; and, along the way, some names needed to be dropped, again and again, like a trail of blood from impaled flesh, in the direction of the cherry-paneled walls of an Admissions Office Committee at Harvard.
Once I finished reading Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, I was convinced that she is indeed the unrivaled mistress of orchestration. While some of us stage mothers lick our wounds and slink away by the time our children are in tenth grade, Chua hovers up above in the branches long after twilight, her tail coiled around the twigs, her paws poised, ready to pounce on her game.
After reading Chua's book, I began mulling over one possibility: Chinese mothers may be superior and Caucasian mothers may indeed be gentler; but it was becoming more and more apparent that the bovine Indian mother was often the most balanced. Here are some of the reasons why that may be so. Feel free to add some of your own at the end of the post.
· Gentle Moo: Unlike the Chinese mother portrayed by Amy Chua, the Indian mother does not take the bull by the horns; instead she moos and steers her kid’s hind in the rough direction of where she wants him or her to go. Her motto: Nudge without the Edge.
· Holding pail to udder: Know that the Indian mother too knows to milk the system but she does it with a beatific smile, hot samosas in hand, her childbearing hips undulating with bovine grace inside her sari. She never does it in the manner of Amy Chua, with the unbending stance of a terracotta soldier.
· Above all, be Indian: Indian mothers name their kids Nachiketha and Bhushani and then proceed to prime them with lessons in Indian spirituality, Indian music and dance without ever realizing that pursuing the Indian classical arts is not a ticket to an Ivy. How naïve when there isn’t a national organization certifying Indian music and dance.
· Sense of community: The bovine mother may be called the Costco of motherhood. Like Costco, she does everything big and cheap and she’ll feed you even when you drop in for a second. But like the people at Costco, she almost always moves with the herd. She doesn't go for the unique. If you want Bang and Olufsen, you don't go to Costco, do you?
· No calculating before Calculus: Indian mothers haven’t quite understood that doing Calculus BC the summer before actually doing Calculus BC at school is one way to ensure an A+. “Just how long are we going to protect them?” they ask while packing naan, dhal, sabji and rice for their twenty-five-year-old leaving for work.
· No Hindi AP: Indian mothers don’t care that their kids could nail another AP if only they brought Hindi into their school system. Instead they’re fighting over what should be their national language: Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Telugu and so on and so forth.
· Prom Date over Exam Date: On the other hand, Indian mothers care to dedicate an evening to Bollywood dance at local schools because they have their priorities straight. Another A+ in a transcript can only go so far to get ahead in the social scene.
· Drop and Go: While Amy Chua is in the room taking endless notes at music and tennis lessons, Indian mothers are drinking extra-hot chai latte at their local Starbucks along with buddies.