I never took the public bus home until I was in secondary school. And even then, on most days, my mum picked me up once the school bell rang and whisked me away to the safety of our home.
She did it till I was 17. Even when I had boyfriends and girlfriends and my own ATM card and Pink I/C,
I went home with my mum almost every day.
Yes, I am my tiger 🐅 mum's cub,
No, I am not ashamed.
My bed time in primary school was 10pm. But in reality, I was in bed at 9.
Because you need at least 30 mins to calm your mind down and 5 more to fall asleep.
On days you're troubled or too excited, you need an extra 10 to take deep breaths.
That's why you're in bed at 9 even though you only need to be asleep at 10.
"It's called planning."
Omg I can still remember how she says it in that exact tone and way.
If we needed to be at a lunch appointment at noon and the car ride is only 30 minutes, we left the house at 11am anyway.
"You don't need to wear shoes is it? That's 5 minutes"
"Then what if you reach and there's a queue at the carpark and you need to look for lots? Another 10 minutes."
"And when you reach the shopping mall, don't need to walk to the restaurant is it? Another 4 minutes"
My tiger mum over analysed and over compensated every time.
But that's also exactly how I learnt to never be late. Not for the big events in my life, and not for the small ones too.
I learnt to factor in the time taken to park my car, to find my way to the meeting location and always to turn up 5-10 minutes before the agreed time.
To me, it was common sense and built into my system. And when I met Daniel, I realised with a huge surprise that no.
Not everyone knows how to be on time.
They don't factor in the minutes needed to make that difficult U turn or the seconds they need to get onto the car, check their belongings and tie their shoelaces.
If Google map says it takes 15 minutes to reach the destination, Daniel leaves home at 1045.
It drove me mad. And then it drove my tiger mum mad.
Even till today,
It still does.
By 7 years old, I was already enrolled in 10 different classes.
In no particular order of importance, I learnt:
> Chinese Speech and Drama
> English Speech and Drama
> Memory training
> Western Art
> Chinese Calligraphy
> Chinese Painting
> Video Editing
> Creative Thinking
Yet never once in my childhood do I remember feeling exhausted (at least not as exhausted as the way I feel now)
And I firmly believe these classes made me who I am today.
There were a lot of others we both went to sign up for but I never got to joining because apparently I was super picky about the classes and would cry inconsolably if I didn't like it.
We queued for 3 months to be given a spot at a popular music school for Piano classes, but I cried like a crazy banshee and refused to step into the class when the time came.
Same for ballet and for English speech and drama, the latter I joined for 4 months before leaving.
I have come to realise that my mum never made me stay in classes I didn't like.
And while I always tell my friends that my mum raised me up to be a Chinese Princess 👸 (do you see the amount of Chinese based classes I was attending)
I realise while writing this post that I chose these classes for myself.
When I had both speech and drama languages. I quit English before Chinese. Same for art. Waved goodbye to Western art before Chinese painting.
As children or outsiders, we think parents make decisions for their children without their consent or without knowing their likes and dislikes.
But my tiger mum knew what I wanted and preferred before I realised it myself.
Even at 24 years of age, I continue to tell the story of how I was raised as Chinese Royalty
Not even knowing that by studying my behaviour in classes, (she attended most with my, quietly waiting in the background) she found out which I liked best.
Even while I was crying throughout the first 2 years of my Guzheng lessons (my teacher was some crazy nehneh that would use a ruler to whack our hands if we made a mistake),
She realised I had the potential to do well. So despite all the tears and sulking, she made me carry on.
I think this is the one thing in my childhood I don't fondly remember, but am thankful for.
I proceeded to play the instrument for 10 years, completing my diploma and winning countless competitions.
I slowly realised that even if you're not particularly fond of something but good at it, you will slowly learn to love it to.
It doesn't burn as bright as passion, but it doesn't hurt as much too.
I have a gazillion stories throughout my 10 years learning the Guzheng.
For those of you who don't know, it's a Chinese string instrument with 21 different strings.
But what I remember most is the daily 30 minutes sessions I had to clock in every single day to practice it.
That was our agreement. 30 minutes a day of SOLID practice time. If I walked around, went to pee or take a drink, my practice sessions were extended.
It was the worst during the school holidays because while other kids were outside playing, I needed to practice.
And practice was doubled during the holidays. Meaning instead of one 30 min session, I practiced twice.
Sometimes I played crying (I was 8 ah mind you) and my tears would blur my vision (maybe that's how I learnt to play with my eyes closed)
Sometimes I sulked and got angry and pushed down all the 琴马 that held up the strings.
But one thing I was always glad for, was that no matter how long I practiced, my mum was always there to listen.
She would literally drop everything and sit in front of me to listen to me play.
She didn't use her phone, didn't watch the TV and didn't read the papers. She just sat there and listened. She made sure I never slouched, made sure I played the tune right and made sure I never slacked off.
Even when my dad came back (once in a blue moon) she didn't let him turn on the television when I was practicing.
The whole world shut up for me to practice.
It was almost like she was saying, we are in this together.
She didn't just throw me in the deep end and walk away. She practiced what she preached.
And to me, that was really important.
听写s were my nightmare.
I was expected to get full marks every time. No exceptions, no excuses.
The rationale? How can you get something wrong when the answers are already provided? You literally just need to learn how to write it and they will test it exactly.
I almost shat my pants the one time I got an answer wrong. The displeasure was clear and so was the punishment.
I think till today I will never forget how to write 已经 because she made me write it 100 times.
It was really super scary to face her wrath when I went home with a mistake in my spelling test.
I don't think I'll enforce it on my kids next time but I think it did teach me how to manage my studies and priorities as I grew older.
It also set incredibly high standards for me and in turn increased the standards I had for myself as well. Further down in my school life, I began to understand why I wasn't statisfied with a B or C and always aimed for the A.
A lot of people view tiger mums very negatively. Especially when they look into the eyes of kid that looks…for the lack of a better description, dead inside 😐
But after I entered secondary school, there was actually very little she could do for me anymore.
Mum isn't very highly educated, so beyond secondary school, she couldn't catch up with my curriculum anymore.
But tbh, she didn't need to. Because having instilled the right values and habits since young, she had done her job.
She set me on a path towards success simply because she managed to impart me with the right values when I was younger.
I still believe that young children are like sponges. Their brains are fully capable of absorbing a whole lot of shit in an insanely short amount of time.
I only spent a year tops taking art classes, but I find myself being able to design, draw, sketch and colour (albeit digitally) with greater ease than my peers.
My speech and public speaking abilities are above average thanks to the 2-3 years I spent in Chinese S&D and the 2 months in English S&D.
I sing in tune and in time to the beat at karaokes, largely because I took Guzheng lessons. I also taught myself the guitar and a tiny bit of the piano thanks to the musical foundation.
As a 24 year old, I can look back and tell you that all the weariness and unhappiness I felt back when I was under my Tiger Mum's paw when I was younger doesn't even make me flinch today.
Thinking back and talking about it, I am always filled with so much thankfulness that she made me take all these lessons and insisted on never letting us get tuition.
Till today, one of my greatest takeaways is the ability to learn independently.
My favourite source of information is from the internet and I learn by looking, experimenting and doing things on my own.
I skipped a month of tutorials and lectures in university back in Year 2 and still graduated with honours, largely because I spent the time at home, independently looking through slides and notes.
This, she taught me as well.
Even when she could no longer solve my math equations and answer my GP questions,
She sat beside me while I studied, the same way she has been doing since I was young.
She doesn't use her phone, or computer or watch TV. When her children studies, she reads the newspapers, reads a book or practices her calligraphy.
She makes sure we are capable of sitting at a single spot and studying and she leads by example too.
Daniel is always amazed by how I can lie on my bed (an upgrade from the dining table) for 8 hours, working on web design.
I am fast, focused and I don't get distracted easily. And these are skills my mum have nurtured in me.
They are not in my blood, or my character. I am not born with it, not gifted these abilities.
They are painstakingly carved into me, day after day, year after year, by a mother who knows these skills will one day change my life.
I'm at the age whereby having children is something we're seriously considering.
But we always have doubts on how we want to raise our children and whether we are capable of giving them the right kind of upbringing.
And every time I think of how I want to raise my child, I think of my mother.
I think of how I want to raise them just like how my mum raised me.
She might be the best mum out there, because tbh every mom wants the best for their child and that makes them the best mum a kid can get.
But she's definitely a great mum. She's my hero, my mountain, my greatest annoyance, and my greatest joy.
She's what makes our house a home.
And if that makes her a Tiger Mum,
Then I'm happy to be her cub. 🐅
P.S: Would love to hear your #tigercub stories too! If you share, do tag it hehe. Wanna learn from other mummies too! 💕