So today, I cover up this month’s Vanity Fair—the one with the perfect visage of the perfect Angelina on the cover—with this week’s more objective (unless you’re Sarah Palin) New Yorker while I vacuum the living room rug and Bamboo’s dog bed. She’s making me feel bad about myself in all sorts of ways.
And then I feel sort of bad, almost guilty, about covering her entire face because what has Angelina Jolie ever done to me? In fact, she’s done some real good in the world I’d say, using her celebrity AND her heart to try to help out in the places most of us can’t find on a map. And then I remember that her Vietnamese–born son comes from the same orphanage as my daughter, and that makes me feel so remorseful of my covering her up that I remove the New Yorker and stare into Angie’s faultless green eyes and think about how much we have in common:
- As previously mentioned, both of us have Vietnamese-born children.
- Both of us were raised by French mothers.
…and that’s all I can think of.
Except that I as I roll up the vacuum cord, I wonder if her mother was born in the Chinese Year of the Boar, like my mother was. I wonder this because I’m almost finished reading “Battle Hymn of the Tiger” mother, a book about obsessive parenting which has galvanized parents everywhere.
(First generation, educated Chinese girl marries also-educated Jewish lawyer, they have two daughters, and she takes on the role of being both a Yale law professor and a fanatical, even seemingly possessed—my impression, anyway—“Tiger Mother”, as she puts it,
raising her daughters in the “Chinese Way” because it’s “best.”
And where is dad in all this, you may wonder if you haven’t read the hundreds of articles already
written on this book or heard any number of the TV and radio interviews given to Chua herself? To me, it isn’t really
much of a stretch—when their younger daughter starts to rebel at the hours and hours of violin practice, no sleepovers, no friends, nothing but school, practicing, practicing some more, school—to see why he doesn’t balk more than he does (which doesn’t appear to be much): Chinese and Jews can be pushy in both academics and music and they are over-represented in both. (That’s not really my opinion; if you look at the numbers, it’s a fact. )
I haven’t finished the book quite yet, but it’s given me a whole lotta food for thought.
Do I wish my Boar mother (and Dog father) had been more … Tigerish with me when I was young, and then I’d and
then I’d be more accomplished? Should I be raising my own daughter in the Chinese Way (if that’s even possible )?
So I do some research on all of us:
- I was born in the year of the Water Rabbit and my daughter was born in the Year of the Water horse. (We’re going to Mexico for Thanksgiving so that seems about right.)
- Author Amy wasborn in the year of the Tiger. Water Tiger, as it turns out.(I read this today, on the Oracle of Great Misinformation, which cracked me up: “Water Tigers are sensitive and tranquil. They realize that other people have worthy opinions too. They’re very intuitive which makes them good at accurately judging different situations. ”
Right. And they sell no books, either.)
- Angie (whom I’m calling “Angie” at tis point because we have two things in common), I find out, was born in the year of the Wooden Rabbit . So now we have THREE things in common, if you count that Rabbit thing.
- Angie’s mother, Marcheline (who apparently was NOT Parisian French but a French Canadian/Iroquois Indian and so that’s one less thing we have in common–back to two) was born in the Year of the Metal Tiger. Ah, another Tiger. Hm. Angie’s Tiger mother famously let Angie’s boyfriend move in with them when Angelina was 14. That is 5 years older than Bian. That doesn’t seem too Tiger-ish to me.
- My mother was born in the year of the Wood Boar, my father the Wood Dog.
- This year happens to be the Year of the Metal Rabbit.
- I am really nothing like what you would imagine a rabbit (or hare) to be.
After pondering all of our Chinese zodiacs (and in Vietnam, the Rabbit or the Hare is transformed into a Cat), I begin to think up a modern-day parable (maybe because Asian culture seems so steeped in parables and moralistic stories).
More on that another day. I’m still working on it.