I attended my first sleepover at age eight. Granted, my mom wasn’t too pleased because she didn’t know the birthday girl’s parents and had safety concerns, but that’s neither here nor there. By the time I was 10, I had experienced my share of play dates, quit piano lessons, and made several macaroni-encrusted greeting cards that were displayed on the fireplace mantle at home. And now, here I am, 10 years later—still haven’t played a symphony, let alone composed one, trying to figure out if I’ll make the cut for the least competitive VES class, and wallowing in my inability to understand mortgage-backed securities.
Clearly, I’ve been on this path to mediocrity for some time. It started with play dates but didn’t end there. You know how it is with slippery slopes. After “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” a controversial book by Amy L. Chua ’84, came out, I succumbed to the feeding frenzy surrounding it and decided to reassess my childhood, trying to piece together how I got where I am today. Was it the fourth or fifth sleepover that thwarted my quest to become a prodigy once and for all? Was it the lax academic standards that my parents set for me (they let me eat dinner even after getting a B in physics)? Or was it the fact that I once had a small part in a school play (Chua cautions against letting children indulge in the dramatic arts)? Whatever the myriad of reasons that have culminated in my current, underachieving existence, it’s clear the solution is a run o’ the mill tiger mother.
Someone who would have pulled me away from the camp fire at sleep-away camp and asked me if I wanted to practice violin s’more instead. Someone who would have tossed barbs instead of Barbies my way. Someone who would have demanded Matisse-like composition from my homemade stationary. I may be heading nowhere fast, but there’s nothing some tiger balm can’t fix.