Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Tiger Mom Stripes Start to Show

I want to start out by saying I hate mom labels- Tiger Mom, Helicopter Mom, Free-Range Mom- they are all ridiculous. My use of the term "Tiger Mom" in this post is for humorous purposes, and those who regularly read my blog know I am not one of those moms who pushes her kids to do... well, anything. If my kids enjoy something, then Hubby and I support them. If they don't want to do it, we don't force them, unless they haven't given the activity a fair try.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, on with the post.
Pic from Parenting Mojo

One of my main goals as a mother has always been to teach my children about choices; everything in life they do is based on a choice. There is nothing in this world that isn't based on a choice, and that is probably the #1 thing I preach to my kids. When I tell them to do something, do they have to do it? Nope, they don't. They can choose not to do it, but then they must suffer the consequences. Does Hubby have to get up and go to work every morning? Nope, he doesn't, but if he chooses not to, he could get fired. Everything in life is a choice, and my kids know this. They hear me say it just about every single day.

So, when The Girl came home the other day and said that she had a huge problem, I listened with open ears and an open heart, to see how I could help her. She had one week to read a book, and here it was, 6 days later, and she still had over 350 pages to read in the book. The assignment was due the next day. She immediately came out with, "I hate how hard my teacher is. There's no way I can read 350 pages tonight. This is so stupid." 

Whoa, whoa, whoa there, little missy. My Tiger Mom stripes started popping out. I needed to collect some more information before I unleashed them fully.

Here's what I found out:

  1. The kids in the class were allowed to choose their own books.
  2. My daughter chose the largest book, at over 550 pages.
  3. She knew she had one week to read the book, and when the assignment was due.
  4. She chose to go to a friend's house over the weekend and not take her book.
  5. She chose to play volleyball, which, we told her in the beginning, meant she would have to start budgeting her time much more efficiently so that her grades didn't slip, and her chores were still done.
With my information gathered, I allowed my Tiger Mom stripes to show, and she got this speech:

"Sweetheart, I understand you are frustrated right now, and I agree, there is no way you will be able to finish that book tonight, unless you were to stay up all night and read it. But, you knew when the book was due, you chose to go to your friend's house this past weekend, AND, you chose to read the biggest book in the class. I'm proud of you for challenging yourself, but with everything else you have going on in your life, you should have managed your time better in order to get all of it done. You are in the predicament you are because of the choices you made, which is not your teacher's fault."

That's when Hubby piped up.

"Morgan, a week for a kid to read a book is a little ridiculous, don't you think? I mean, The Girl does play volleyball, which means she doesn't get home until after 5 each day, and she has regular homework to do. I think you should write a note to the teacher, explaining why she didn't get the assignment done." 

My Tiger Mom roared.

"The Girl CHOSE the book to read; it wasn't assigned to her. If the teacher had assigned a 550 page book for the kids to read in a week, yeah, I'd have something to say to her. But, your daughter chose that book, chose to go to a friend's house last weekend, and chose to play volleyball. Therefore, the consequences are hers and hers alone."

I took a few minutes to calm down, and Hubby and I talked while The Girl retreated to her room to read as much as she could that evening. I reached a compromise with Hubby, which was to write a note to the teacher saying that I had witnessed my daughter reading every day of the last week for at least an hour each day and that we understood she did not finish the assignment by the due date. This note was not a lie, because The Girl did read the morning before she went to her friend's house, and read when she got home the next day, and she did head to her room an hour before bedtime to read every night, which we saw when we checked in on her at bedtime. The note also let the teacher know that we were aware of the situation, and not completely clueless to our daughter's study habits. But, I refused to make excuses for my daughter.

Call me a Bitchy Mom now if you'd like, but that's how things are done around here. I can't stand to see kids who blame their problems on everyone else around them instead of taking responsibility for their own actions. When my daughter stated that she hated how hard her teacher was, she tried to take the blame off of herself and her actions, and place it on her teacher. That's unacceptable in my house. If you screw up, or make a bad decision, you need to understand the consequences of your actions- it's that simple. 

Is this particular scenario a tough way to teach this lesson to an 11 year old? Maybe. But, the next time she's given a long-term assignment, will she make sure to finish it? I believe so, yes. 

This scenario also gave me a great opportunity to share with The Girl some of my tips for a successful school career (I got straight A's my entire middle school through high school years):
  1. If given the choice of a book for a book report, NEVER choose the biggest book. Am I an overachiever? Most definitely. Did I live by this rule? You better believe it. I picked the biggest book once, to prove to the teacher I could do it. The result was me, pacing around my house (to keep awake) until 2am, finishing the book on the night before it was due. From that moment on, I didn't pick the biggest book anymore. I never chose the easiest book either, though. Always find one in the middles that comfortably challenges you.
  2. If you are given a time limit to read a book, divide the number of pages of the book by the number of days you have to read it, to get an average number of pages you need to read each day to finish the book by the deadline. I really thought this was a given- that all kids did this. Apparently I'm just a super nerd who has to crunch numbers. I even took this one step further with my daughter, seriously bringing out my nerd side:
  3. Time yourself reading 1 page of the book. Take that number and multiply it by the number of pages you have to read each day, to get an average amount of time it'll take you to read your allotted number of daily pages. That's when The Girl took a piece of paper out of her book bag and said, "My average reading time is 1 minute 20 seconds per page. My teacher made us time ourselves." I instantly fell in love with her teacher- apparently she was a nerd, too, and was trying to teach her kids the shortcuts and loopholes without actually teaching them. I took a second to run everything through my head, and told my daughter, "2 hours a day. That's roughly what you would have had to read in order to finish your book in time. 2 hours and 80 pages each day. That's it. Or, you could have read for an hour each day after school, then about 4 hours each day of the weekend, and you would have had it done, too. That's what I used to do in school- just read all weekend to get it done."
    This makes my math nerd side giggle.
    Pic from 9Gag

    Totally off on a tangent, but my kids looked at me like I was an alien. Their mouths were wide open, and finally The Girl simply said, "Mom... um... did you just do all that math in your head... in like 30 seconds?" Apparently I had. "Wow. You're like a genius... a really weird, kinda crazy, freaky math genius, Mom," The Girl informed me. So I am. 
With these 3 tips in mind, The Girl was now armed and ready for her next book report. As far as this book report, she did go to school, and chose not to give the teacher my note. She took full responsibility for not having finished it, and apparently she wasn't the only one in the class, so the teacher gave them more time.

I have come across many moms who have talked with me about how "hard" I am on my kids; that I do show my Tiger Mom stripes here and there, and I'm okay with that. I would rather have a child get a bad grade on an assignment they didn't finish, but not only really learn the lesson so they never repeat it, but also own up to their lack of responsibility, then to have me bail them out and maybe get an extension, resulting in a good grade. No lesson is learned that way, in my opinion, except how to skirt out of work and make excuses. Even at the ages of 11 and 8, I can't have my kids thinking that's acceptable.

Should I have kept better tabs on my daughter's reading progression throughout the week and maybe brought up her book to her before she decided to go to her friend's house? Yes, I probably should have. I learned a lesson with this scenario, too. While my kids need to understand time management and consequences to their actions, I need to be a more interactive mom, and get way more nosey into their school business. 

So, with my Tiger Mom stripes sinking back into my colorfully tattooed skin, and this lesson successfully taught to The Girl, I felt highly accomplished as a mother. All moms seriously need just one day like this, every now and then, to know you are on the right track with your kids. I'm very thankful for my day, and my Tiger Mom stripes. I don't need them all of the time, but it's nice to know they are there for when I do need them.

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  1. Oh lordy! I have been trying to write a post all day with a very similar situation. I'm totally linking your post in mine (provided I get mine finshed). SO glad I am not alone in feeling this way! ::bowing to your fabulousness::

    1. Lol, link away.
      And, you know what they say: Great minds think alike.

      Or, crazy minds are on the same chaotic, crazy wavelength, just crashing into each other.
      Yeah, it's probably that one, when it comes to the two of us, lol. ;)