Call me obsessed but I can’t stop thinking about this. I just read a couple of more excerpts from Chua’s “parenting” book, which I’ll copy and paste here:
After her young children presented her with handmade birthday cards:
I gave the card back to Lulu. “I don’t want this,” I said. “I want a better one — one that you’ve put some thought and effort into. I have a special box, where I keep all my cards from you and Sophia, and this one can’t go in there.”
“What?” said Lulu in disbelief. I saw beads of sweat start to form on Jed’s forehead.
I grabbed the card again and flipped it over. I pulled out a pen from my purse and scrawled ‘Happy Birthday Lulu Whoopee!’ I added a big sour face. “What if I gave you this for your birthday Lulu- would you like that? But I would never do that, Lulu. No — I get you magicians and giant slides that cost me hundreds of dollars. I get you huge ice cream cakes shaped like penguins, and I spend half my salary on stupid sticker and erase party faovrs that everyone just throws away. I work so hard to give you good birthdays! I deserve better than this. So I reject this.” I threw the card back.
Of course my initial reaction is, “Are you fucking insane?” But delving deeper, it’s obvious, as other commenters have stated, that Chua had just a flawed relationship with her own mother, and learned absolutely nothing from it. I show you I love you by throwing you big expensive birthday parties. You show me you love me by this card that you made. It’s not you I love but what you do.
Why are you throwing your daughters such expensive parties? So you can throw it in their faces later? So you can be better than the rest of the mommies? If you’re not happy to do it, then don’t do it! But of course she’s going to do it because then what would everyone think?
The other excerpt:
After her daughter’s beloved paternal grandmother Popo died, Chua insisted the girls write a short speech to read at the funeral. Both girls refused (“No please, Mommy, don’t make,” Sophia said tearfully. “I really don’t feel like it.”). Chua insisted.
Sophia’s first draft was terrible, rambling and superficial. Lulu’s wasn’t so great either, but I held my elder daughter to a higher standard. Perhaps because I was so upset myself, I lashed out at her. “How could you, Sophia?” I said viciously. “This is awful. It has no insight. It has no depth. It’s like a Hallmark Card — which Popo hated. You are so selfish. Popo loved you so much — and you — produce–this!”
First of all, “Popo” would be a MATERNAL grandmother, presumably Chua’s mother. How awful to make her daughters feel like shit, to make her daughters question if they loved their grandmother enough, when it’s she herself who probably feels she didn’t love her mother enough, to do enough to make her mother one billion percent happy.