This probably applies to watching other sports too but since I watch baseball the most…
I yell at the TV. A lot. Especially when someone does something stupid, which with the Giants is a roller coaster ride. We have great games, then we have really awful ones..just like any other team. I swear I blame Thomas for this because we always make fun of him for being critical of the Giants, but I kinda do the same thing. Perhaps the words I choose to use are nicer (they’re mostly in Chinese and they really lose a lot in translation so I’m not going to bother trying) but the spirit is the same. Maybe it’s the hypercritical Chinese upbringing we both had. Nothing besides perfection (or pretty darned close to it) is good enough. I have high expectations for my team. I know, a big chunk of the squad is out with the gajillion injuries we have but sloppy play is going t get us nowhere. Our pitchers have to shoulder a lot of the responsibility as well, since it’s pretty clear our offense isn’t going to be stellar. I know how good we can and should be, and don’t wanna settle for anything less.
Case in point: The Giants’ performance today. I had the pleasure of watching a big chunk of the game at Chez Lam/Yeung. Thomas asked me a few times…why are you watching this? They are performing horribly. Why subject yourself to this pain? You’ll just get angry anyway. True, but it was early and we were just down by a few. But as the game wore on and Timmy didn’t settle in and other mistakes were made (like Stew’s throw to Tejada, Hall’s error, etc.) I just shook my head. With the lead as wide as 5-2 and the 1-2 punch of Balfour/Bailey, there was little likelihood we’d be able to come back. All you can do is dust yourself off and try again tomorrow. I’m going to the O-Co Coliseum (note: could overstock.com have come up with a dumber name? Think not) tomorrow and would really like to come out victorious. I can already imagine the ribbing I’ll get from Chris if they win two in a row. Ugh. Right after tonight’s game was over (and I do mean right after) I got a text from him with a smiley face. Jerk!
Anyway, I guess this whole “tiger mom”/we want perfection thing has come up a few times today. My cousin Anna and I were talking in the car on our way back from Off the Grid (fancy food truck feast that should probably get its own post eventually). She told me a story about seeing a kid who looked to be about 7-8, in a park, playing the sax. He had his sax case out, presumably to collect change from donors. He really, really stunk at the sax. She said to her friend that at least this kid had the balls to try something like this. Her friend had a different opinion – kids these days are given the good ole pat on the back a little too much. If they suck, they need to be told they suck. So maybe those weren’t the *exact* words, but you get the sentiment – kids shouldn’t be coddled.
I have mixed feelings on the topic. This is something that’s come up a few times, especially this year when Amy Chua’s articles in the NYTimes (and her subsequent book) came out. In the article, she recounted a time when she sat her daughter at the piano and forced her to play the piece she was practicing for a recital until she got it right. This was much to the chagrin of her daughter, since she was frustrated that she just couldn’t seem to get it right. Chua’s describes the frustration she saw from her child, but also the joy across her daughter’s face when it finally “clicked” and she could play the piece. Some would believe that a mom forcing her child to practice without an end in sight is cruel and is not healthy. Yet, clearly there is something to be said about the phrase “practice makes perfect”. Plus, as nice as parents/relatives/teachers might be, the real world is harsh. As some might even say, “it’s a dog eat dog world”. How will your kids learn that marginality is not good enough unless you punch it in them (not literally) from the get-go?
I think that obviously the context is very important. If it’s something you would not expect a child to be doing well at their age (e.g. playing the sax well at 7-8 years old), then harsh words/labels probably need not be used. I mean, at that age it’s just cute anyway – who expects a 7-8 year old to actually be good anyway? But, if you have a 15 year old who is hoping to make it a career and isn’t cutting the mustard or putting in the time/energy, then maybe that’s different. I dunno how harsh would be appropriate but a serious talk is definitely called for. Knowing me, I’d guess that I will be a relatively strict mom if I ever have kids but I don’t think I could ever be a “tiger mom”. That’s probably because I can look back at my own childhood (esp. high school) and look at all the stupid $^%}+#!! I’ve done and maybe that will give me some perspective. When it comes to my Giants, though…I expect more! Now go out there and play like champs! 🙂
So…the theme of this blog, the everlasting question – do people perform better under that intense pressure from an outside source, like a parent, or do we all need some coddling? Does that pressure ever get to a point where it is simply too much? Have we as a society decided that it’s ok for people to be marginal? I know some of my Chinese relatives would believe we Americans have. Just look at the school system. Would kids be allowed to be truant in HK or China? Or fail? Hell no. Anyway, just a curious little topic there…