Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Crouching tiger mummy

I am no tiger mummy, not least because I am far too lazy to prise myself away from my G&T and the latest addictive app on my iPad to supervise homework or music practise. It's not that I don't have aspirations for my children, it's just that they match my aspirations to give up booze and chocolate, in that I have, as yet, failed to live up to them.

Fortunately for me my children are far more industrious and enthusiastic than me and as such, just like tiger cubs in the wild, paw me out of my somnolence and insist that I ferry them endlessly to their round of activities. I sometimes feel slightly miffed that my nine-year-old's CV is already far more impressive than my own, despite me having over a decade's worth of career behind me.

That said it has always been the way with me. I still remember that frantic scrabble to come up with hobbies, interests and achievements to fill out my UCCA and PCAS college application forms all those years ago. Many a biro was chewed to a crunchy plastic mess as I pondered how to dress up lunchtimes spent sneaking off to the local pub to smoke and flirt with older boys as some kind of worthy activity that would mark me out as a bright young thing. Could I possibly put down the geography prize I had won in year 8 or perhaps the one time I came first in cross country running because my sadistic PE teacher had forced the fastest girl to drag me along with her?

Is it any wonder that despite my lofty plans for a lucrative career in law I ended up as a jobbing freelance shuffling from one ill-paid commission to the next? Perhaps it horror of the same fate befalling them that has inspired my sons to be far more goal-oriented than me.

While I meandered through school choosing only to participate in activities that involved spending time with whatever spotty oik was the man of my dreams at that particular moment, my sons are like human dynamos. In fact it is me who whinges about their activity schedule. I am ashamed to admit that I frequently attempt to bribe them to skip their judo classes on Friday evening so I can stay in with a takeaway and the latest episode of Homeland on the Sky+ box rather than having to stay sober so I can them drive to and fro to a church hall where they will join other sweaty boys in grunting and tossing one another over their shoulders.

Despite my best efforts at subversion my oldest boy remains defiant in his eagerness to achieve. He plays cello and piano, in which he wins plaudits in every exam he takes, he's won medals in both judo and for his roles in his drama group plays, he runs with a club and frequently begs me to allow him to take up tennis and gymnastics. It is only my lack of enthusiasm combined with limited funds and hours in the day that stop him from adding these and many more strings to his bow.

It might sound as if I am boasting, but honestly I can take no credit. I am entirely convinced it is despite, rather than because of me that he has turned out so well. I have always subscribed to the view that if you love your children that is sufficient, surely you don't have to help them with their maths and listen to them scrape their way through their scales too?

My husband assures me that this is an entirely flawed philosophy as he buggers off to work leaving me to applaud loudly at the latest concert or sit, rapt, through another bravura performance. Thank goodness the boys are pretty good at what they do or this really would be torture.

Indeed it is somewhat of a consolation to me how much pride I do take in my boys' achievements. I always despised those mothers who constantly crowed about the many talents of their offspring, but now I sometimes find myself skirting dangerously close to becoming one. I like to tell myself it doesn't count if I casually drop their latest triumph into general conversation with friends, or paste it into my Facebook status, but I suspect I may be deluding myself. In my defence this is only because I know the restraint it took not to buttonhole complete strangers in the street and bounce around them crying 'My baby got a distinction in his cello exam!!!!'

So it turns out that even the most crouching, or more accurately prone after a good lunch, tiger mummy can still turn out a pretty good litter of cubs. Now where did I put my car keys? It's time for the blasted piano lesson again.

1 comment:

  1. It is quite hard not to be proud of your kids' achievements. I used to hate it when my mum boasted about me, so I have to check myself, but lately I have found myself telling people about Littleboy 1's piano triumphs and hoping I'm not being too nauseating.