My mom couldn’t resist reading a new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua. This book has drawn all sorts of controversy from major media, including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
Amy Chua, a professor at Yale Law School, was determined to raise her daughters the Chinese way. That meant getting all A’s in school, no sleepovers, no participating in activities that wouldn’t lead to gold medals (or the equivalent) and generally no fun. Amy’s daughters excelled at music, one on violin and the other on piano. Well, they had no choice: Amy stood over them and watched as they practiced.
A lot of readers and reviewers were critical of Amy’s mothering style. My mom was a little wistful. “I wish I’d had a mom who was more like that,” she says. “Maybe I’d be more accomplished. I could play an instrument. For sure I’d have a cleaner, more orderly household.”
True. As the resident dog, I know when it’s time to avoid certain sensitive subjects. When it comes to me, she’s reasonably strict. If I refuse to walk, she drags me. She even carries me from the elevator to our own condo door. I rather enjoy that. But she’s a softie, too. When I first moved in, she said, “Dogs don’t sleep with people.” From the vantage point of my own cushion on the foot of her bed, in close proximity to the fat Ophelia, I try to look respectful as we drift off to sleep every evening. Ophelia just looks smug.
My mom has directed my attention to page 108 of this book, where Amy Chua writes about their dog, Coco, a white Samoyed.
Coco, Amy writes, “got cuter by the day. She had the same strange effect on all four of us. Just looking at her lifted our spirits. This was true even though all my ambitions for her had been replaced by a single dynamic. She would look at me with her pleading chocolate almond eyes — and I would do whatever she wanted…”
Well, why not?
Amy adds on page 109, “It didn’t upset me that I had revised my dreams for Coco – I just wanted her to be happy. I had finlly come to see that Coco was an animal, with intrinsically far less potential than [my daughers]. Although it is true that some dogs are on bomb squads or drug-sniffing teams, it is perfectly fine for most dogs not to have a profession or even any special skills.”
Well, that shows Amy does have a sense of humor, contrary to the comments of some reviewers, my mom says. But I am a little indignant. What dog doesn’t have special skills? My skills are looking cute, prancing, and snuggling.
And although I may not have a formal profession, my life does have a purpose. I am responsible for giving many people a much-needed “dog fix” in their lives. Our building security guard says, “She makes my day.” The restaurant owner next door spends several minutes giving me a good massage whenever he sees me. And every so often a total stranger will ask to pat me, thanking my mom for the privilege.
“Gracie, I think your life has more meaning than most people’s,” my mom likes to say, a little wistfully. She’s not known for being warm and fuzzy herself. That’s my cue to look up at her adoringly and try to be on good behavior for at least three minutes. See? Who says I don’t have a job?