Reading Amy Chua’s Tiger Mom essay reminded me again that I also grew up with an immigrant mom and dad. We — my siblings and I — were all immigrants. In fact, my entire neighborhood grew up in similar households. All my friends had at least one, if not two, parents who spoke English as a second language.
[Sidebar: My best friend grew up in a house where -- instead of a picture of Roosevelt or JFK hanging on the wall -- there was a picture of Gamal Abdul Nasser hanging in a place of prominence. His dad was Muslim and his mom was Christian.]
In our house it was assumed that we were playing for keeps. The grades, the extra-curricular activities like 60 min. of piano and violin practice every day, art studies, etc. I remember practicing my violin and, having memorized the piece, reading a book while I played. Win-win for everyone!
It was was pedal-to-the-metal for sure. It was, of course, different then: we didn’t have nearly the homework volume that my kids have/had now.
We were always being told that we were not like the other kids (a variant on “if so-and-so jumped off the bridge, would you do it too?”). It was all much harder for my two older siblings, brother and sister, and they each rebelled in their own ways, against their same-gender parent. And this all happened during the cultural upheaval of the 1960′s. By the time it was my turn to be the focus of attention, I had already been juggling with knives for years. So it was a bit different — the urgency wasn’t there on their part. And, compared to how it was with my older siblings, my younger sister might as well have grown up with different parents by the time she was in high school (13 years difference between oldest and youngest kids).
Anyway, that was a long time ago, now that I think about it.