I could feel the Tiger Mom in me emerging recently as I started hovering over the boys’ Kung Fu classes. I would glare at them when it looked like they weren’t concentrating, frown at their happy chit chat with friends, and scold them during breaks to do better. The other day my younger one turned to me before class and mumbled, I hate Kung Fu, I don’t want to go. And yet… that very day during lessons, I noticed how much higher their kicks were, how strong their ma bu was, how many stances and movements they have memorized, and how they hung out after class to rough house with their classmates. And it dawned on me… my 8-year old didn’t hate Kung Fu at all! He hated how I made him feel about himself when we were discussing Kung Fu!
The weird thing is, I can absolutely observe the huge improvements they have made… even as they resisted my pushing and internalized my criticisms. As much as they dislike the hard work of Kung Fu, we can all see how much stronger and more flexible they have become. My older one told me that he didn’t like Kung Fu, but he liked the results.
Time to make Kung Fu fun again… time to see Kung Fu masters in action. So, we watched Stephen Chow’s silly nutty Shaolin Soccer (subtitled no less), laughed at all the outrageous and exaggerated antics, got excited at the Chinese words they recognized and pointed out how to use Kung Fu in soccer. We had fun! Next, I let our Shifu know that I would no longer watch or critique my amazing boys while they were in Kung Fu class. He concurred that parents can put an awful lot of pressure on the kids and it can turn them off of something that is such a great life long practice.
Note to self: time to retire Tiger Mom!