Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Tiger Mom.

Jennifer Huffman
Napa Valley Register

There’s nothing that can send a mom halfway to crazy faster than when she thinks someone has done her child wrong. Watch it, because the claws will come out. She will become Tiger Mom.

Tiger Mom is fierce. She is a fighter. And she will defend, with force, if necessary.

I once got a phone call from a mom who was absolutely furious. She thought her daughter had been left out of a Girl Scout event I was involved with. This mom gave me more than just a small piece of her mind. I could picture her reaching through the phone lines to try to strangle me.

Hold on, I wanted to say. That’s not how it happened! But she wasn’t having any of it. She was Tiger Mom.

When two Tiger Moms get together, watch out. A few years ago, another mom accused one of my girls of doing something she said she didn’t do. She was not happy, and hearing the mom’s end of the story, I saw her point. It seemed like an isolated incident, so I gave the mom the benefit of the doubt.

I played it cool. I listened to her. I talked to my kid. We moved on — that is, until I got a second call about a week later.

The same mom had another story about my daughter. That’s when Mrs. Cool became Tiger Mom. I just about went nuts. How dare she? Bring her to me, I wanted to say. Off with her head! After a few rounds back and forth, we Tiger Moms slinked off to our respective corners to lick our wounds.

A side note to the moms who might be reading this and thinking, “Hey, this so-called ‘story’ is sounding pretty darn familiar. I wish Jennifer would leave me out of her lousy column!” Let me assure you, I am not writing about you. I am writing about another mom who only sounds just like you. Really.

Just like a real tiger, Tiger Mom will attack with no warning. You may not hear her coming. She will bare her teeth, growl and then pounce. And you won’t notice until it’s too late. She will take you down.

We can’t help it. It’s hardwired into our mom DNA. If you threaten my child, you threaten me. You will feel pain if my child feels pain. It’s both completely irrational and rational at the same time.

They say that women whose children have been trapped in a burning car have somehow miraculously been able to lift a 3,000-pound vehicle to rescue them. How do they do it? Some say it’s a rush of adrenaline. I know the truth. They become Tiger Mom.

I’ve seen the most emotionally centered and self-actualized mom become completely unhinged at the thought of their kid being teased, or worse, bullied. I’ve seen the mom next door go vigilante on the grumpy neighbor who yelled at her kid.

You want to see a force of nature? Try telling a mom her kid is the only one who didn’t get picked for a team. Didn’t make the cheerleading squad. Didn’t get admitted to the summer school or college of her choice. And you thought Hannibal Lecter was scary.

I called my own mom to ask her if she’d ever turned into Tiger Mom.

Not that I can remember, she said.

What about the “stolen” bike incident of 1982, I said.

Oh that, she said.

One afternoon, a pesky neighbor boy “abducted” my precious metallic red Schwinn girl’s 10-speed bike. I was in tears thinking I’d never see it again. He stole my bike! I cried when my mom got home from work.

My mom tracked down the troublemaker at another neighbor’s house, where he was huddled with a small group of boys, no doubt congratulating themselves on their escapade.

My 5-foot-tall mom marched up to this 6-foot-tall teenager and got right up in his face.

Where is Jennifer’s bike?, she demanded. You bring it back right now!

I got my bike back.

Yeah, I could have killed him, my mom said with a laugh.

Thanks, Tiger Mom.

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