Tiger Babies Strike Back by Kim Wong Keltner, 254pgs
This book was a very honest and easy read of what it's like to grow up conflicted between the culture of your family and the culture all around you. Mostly though, it is a book written in similes and metaphors about being a parent who wants to bring up her child in the best way she can - with lots of fun, love, and hugs. Her writing style gives the work plenty of imagery and brings the story to life but the sheer amount of literary comparisons can be overwhelming at times forcing you to put down the book to take a break from all of them.
My favorite sections can be found on pages 68-71 and 180-181. In the first, she is talking about what it's like to be living in such a duality, as a rebelling Tiger baby, but I think the description is true of all women. "We are not fixed constellations. We are constantly morphing, changing out ambitions and desires, figuring out what we want, and mashing it up.".."And how, exactly, are we going to carve out our identity in this in-between time, between expectation and reality"..."By being shape shifters. We can be what we want to be, but are often many things at once: loyal daughter, workingwoman, athlete, caretaker, stone-cold fox."
In the second section, she is dealing with her daughter confronting cultural insensitivty but really, it can be applied to any parenting scenario where the child is upset at the insensitive actions of their peers. "I know that little kids make fun of everybody and anybody, and I don't want to make a mountain out of a mole hill." She deals with it by talking to her daughter, helping her understand it while not downplaying the hurt it caused her. "...we talk. Not in a big, family meeting kind of way, but just as we're walking to school, or making lunch, or whenever in-between time allows us a few quiet moments. I don't want to act so riled up or hurt that Lucy actually stops telling me stuff. If I were a kid, that's precisely what I would do. I'd feel so bummed already, and if I knew that my parent would be further upset by what I had to say, I'd just stop talking." ..." Our talks about teasing, and particularly about race, are hard to have. But I want to keep having them. In emotional housekeeping, sometimes the hardest work of all is to not sweep things under the carpet." This is a great example of listening to your child and helping them grow up and understand things on their own terms. She's not cushioning her daughter from struggle or fighting it for her nor is she leaving her to deal with it alone. It reminds me of the previous book I just read, The Myth of the Spoiled Child by Alfie Kohn.