In today’s New York Times, David Brooks makes a great point about Amy Chua’s wrong-headed parenting choices.
When the Tiger Mother starts chewing her cubs, the larger question is why doesnâ€™t the father of the house step in to restore sanity? What sort of father today cedes all child-rearing authority to his wife?
â€œExtreme parentingâ€ is tyranny and madness. Crushed under the regime of an Amy Chua, a smart child who is well-grounded and self-protective would run away from home.
Even in a happy household, it is every husbandâ€™s sacred obligation to protect his children from momentary mood swings of the motherly variety.
Just before dinner when everyone including the dog seems to need a stiff one, Mr. Henry will on rare occasions hear Mrs. Henry carping at Little Henry about some minor transgression normally involving a small sin of omission like not putting something away in its proper place.
In order to reestablish family harmony at these critical junctures, Mr. Henry steps into the breach. First he tells Little Henry to run upstairs and hide until dinner is ready. Then he suggest to Mrs. Henry that a little bite of hors dâ€™oeuvres might hit the spot. Then â€“ and this is key â€“ he refuses to engage in a fight with her no matter what.
Major Ames replaced his hat rather hastily, after a swift manoeuvre with regard to his hair which Mrs Evans did not accurately follow. The fact was (though he believed the fact not to be generally known) that the top of Major Amesâ€™ head was entirely destitute of hair, and that the smooth crop which covered it was the produce of the side of his head â€“ just above the ear â€“ grown long, and brushed across the cranium so as to adorn it with seemingly local wealth and sleekness. The rough and unexpected removal of his hat by the bough of the mulberry tree had caused a considerable portion of it to fall back nearly to the shoulder of the side on which it naturally grew, and his hasty manoeuvre with his gathered tresses was designed to replace them. Necessarily he put back his hat again quickly, in the manner of a boy capturing a butterfly.
– p. 59
Mrs. Ames, by E. F. Benson, Bloomsbury Â©1912
Manolo says, manly good fun in the Mexican town of San Juan de la Vega.
Every year on the Tuesday of Carnival (which fell on Feb 5th this year), the residents of San Juan de la Vega get together to â€œrecreateâ€ the great battle of their patron saint (San Juan de la Vega of cours) and the government. The story is that this Juan was a bit of a Robin Hood character and stole from the rich to give to the poor. During Carnival, there is a little bit of a recreation of the story of some thieves stealing gold, but not all making it out. The captured thieves are then offered up for a ransom that exceeds the amount of gold stolen. Money is collected, but apparently not all goes according to plan and there is the resulting battle with the government. This isnâ€™t a small recreation though. Tons of potassium chloride and sulphur along with many thousands of people gather to set off these explosive hammers.
In this Western ski village where the skies are not cloudy all day (sometimes there is snow, too), Mr. Henry has been having fun teasing his adored consort each time the ski-bum waiter addresses her as â€œmaâ€™am.â€
But today the little dude-boy addressed Mr. Henry as â€œsirâ€ â€“Â not once, but three times. Cheek!
Riding the ski lift chair, Mrs. Henry struck up conversation with a teen girl from a prairie state. â€œBecause of my knee injury last year,â€ said Mrs. Henry, â€œthis year weâ€™re taking it easy and staying on the green runs.â€
â€œOh,â€ replied the precious young thing, â€œI think youâ€™re doing real good. My granner and granpa canâ€™t even get out the house anymore!â€
Such kind words. Such generosity of spirit. Arenâ€™t the holidays wonderful?
Somehow Mrs. Henry survived the holidays and her milestone birthday with her amour propre intact and, importantly, with her girlish figure intact, too. After much hand-wringing over the appropriate gift, Mr. Henry chose a camel-colored (â€œheather acornâ€) cashmere cardigan from J. Crew. (Something to wear against the skin seemed to be the right choice.) Inside the sweater he hid a Michelin map of the Benelux countries â€“ a promised trip to Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp. She loved it.
Mr. Henry finally decided what he wants for Christmas â€“ a TSA uniform. Wearing it he can command Mrs. Henry to stand perfectly still for a pat-down. Federal regulations, maâ€™am.