Friday, July 1, 2011

I'm The Model First Child. Hah.

Have you ever heard of the Tiger Mom? She was quite the news when her book came out and tons of people read the article, which had excerpts from the book. If you haven't heard of her, google her. Its worth it.

An excerpt from her book:

"The dynamic in this household is ridiculous," Sophia protested. "I do all the work, and I do everything you say, and I make one mistake and you scream at me. Lulu doesn't do anything you say. She talks back to you and throws things. You bribe her with presents. What kind of 'Chinese mother' are you?"

Sophia really nailed that one. This might be a good time to raise an important part about Chinese parenting and birth order. Or maybe just birth order.

I have a student named Stephanie, who recently told me a funny story. An eldest child and the daughter of Korean immigrants, Stephanie told me that when she was in high school (straight A's, maths whiz, concert pianist), her mother used to threaten her, "If you don't do X, I won't take you to school," And this prospect would strike terror in Stephanie's heart- miss school! So she would do whatever her mother asked. Desperately hoping she wasn't too late. By contrast, when her mother threatened Stephanie's younger sister with the same thing, her sister responeded, "Awesome. I'd love to stay home. I hate school."

There are lots of exceptions of course, but this pattern - model first kid, rebellious second- is definitely one I've noticed in many families, especially immigrant familes. I just thought I could beat it down in Lulu's case through sheer will and hard work.

I'm not Chinese. Nor from an immigrant family. But I'am the eldest of two and what went my mind when I read the paragraphs above was that "Whoa, this is happening to me"

The exact pattern. I'm not exactly a model first kid, but compare to the lil bro, I'm an angel. The lil bro is 14, and being the rebellious younger child, with wild rampaging hormones, I've fought many urges to kick him down the stairs/ push him out of the car/ slam his head into the wall/other violent things.

Yes, my own mother has used the "If you don't do X, I won't take you to school" trick. And yes, it worked every time. Even until now I'm sure. I remember crying as a kid/teenager while scrambling to clean my room. Whimpering in the car ride after about how late I'm gonna be. Dad will be looking at me from the corner of his eyes and make a shuuusssh sound, saying there's plenty of time.

Why, even just last month Mama told me that she'll pull the internet modem's plug off if my room weren't clean by the time she comes upstairs. What did I do? I scrambled around, cleaning my room like a nice little maid.

Another trick is the "I'll be very good if I detect Mama's bad mood". I'll just sit in my room, studying in a clean room, offering to do chores or do stuffs without being asked. I'll be on my best behaviour, all meek like and so-not-wasting-time.

I got presents when I do well at school. When I placed 18th in a class of 36 kids when I was 11, Dad went through with his word.

"One number above 10, you'll be banned from playing on the PlayStation for a week,"

8 weeks of staring at the lil bro playing on the brand new console was torture. The next exam came, I placed 4th.

But when it comes to the lil bro, he'll defy the "no games, no internet, no tv" rule. He'll even retort that he'll do something else. He whines his way out of school once in 2-3 weeks where I was often close to having perfect attendance.

Yes, I complain a lot on the lack of discipline. I rant on how my parents should instill the fear I had for them in him. Make his knees tremble. Make his voice squeak. But no.

"It won't work with your brother"

T.T <--- My face when they say that. If it was up to me, I'll be, oh wait, that's a story for another post.

So, yes, there is a pattern I suppose. But I wonder how it goes if there's more than 2 kids. Will it be a cycle, like every odd numbered child will be the model and the even numbered child will be rebellious? Or, will they get worse?


Experiment House said...

I know exactly how you feel! My brother doesn't get away with everything, and I hated school, but he takes so much for granted. I think it's just something that the oldest goes through. We are the test child, but in the end, who is the more privileged honestly? Who is trusted more? My brother gets trusted with jack all, whereas I end up making decisions and getting first choice a lot of the time.

Delilah said...

Ill answer your question for you.
I'm a Model first child (minus the no school for you threats). And I have two younger sisters. So no. 2 is a rebellious brat and no.3 is worse-r!
Both of them are given more leeway. they get away with anything. If you point out for justice, you might as well have a conversation with yourself because you know whats coming next- 'ah,come on! stop competing. She is only little'
But I'm not complaining. I am the closest to my parents. they are usually very attached to their first. Sentiments and yada =)

r.alsharif said...

I can't believe the 'if you don't do X you won't go to school' worked on you! :P I'd purposely not do it so I wouldn't have to go

Furree Katt said...

i'm the first child, and throughout my school years i worked very hard to achieve good grades and stay in the top 10 of the class every year.
my younger brother is an average student with Cs and everyone seems satisfied with that :/ he has always had less attendance than mine and he's allowed to do basically whatever he wants. sometimes i feel bitter about it.

but hey, at least we'll be the smart ones and make our families proud in the future! ♥

Fiona said...

I'm an asian only child, and I've never really had to deal with aggravating siblings before.
The only people I have to deal with are my super strict parents.

My parents never threatened me with not driving me to school, because they knew I would skip it whenever I had the chance, ahaha. Being an only child means that all their attention is focused on you, and if you slip up even once, they're going to notice.

So yeah.

cricketfreak said...

I'm the model first child too. My parents go apeshit if I get less than 80 percent for anything. And I always have to get 1st,2nd or 3rd. My brother usually gets Cs or Ds at school and everyone seems fine with that -.-
I like ur blog. I'm new, follow me?:D


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