Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do: attend a sleepover; have a playdate; be in a school play; complain about not being in a school play; watch TV or play computer games; choose their own extracurricular activities; get any grade less than an A; not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama; play any instrument other than the piano or violin; not play the piano or violin.
— Amy Chua, “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior,” The Wall Street Journal
I’m better than you. I don’t say this to offend you, but merely to state fact. Sure, you may be better at some things (macrame, column writing) but, over all, I’m superior. If life were a sport in the Summer Olympics, I would win the gold medal. You would be Canada.
So it should come as no surprise that I am better at parenting than most humans (and all animals, except bison and unicorns). The reason? I’m a Caucasian male.
The Caucasian culture does not accept mediocrity. You name it, we excel at it. Whether it’s playing hockey, or watching hockey, or dancing (the polka), or finishing last in 100-metre races, or suppressing the civil rights of minorities, Caucasian males do it best. We also raise the brightest children.
I have two children, a five-year-old son and a seven-year-old daughter. (I will refer to them by pseudonyms they chose for themselves: Captain Batman Skywalker and Princess iCarly Montana.) They’re better than your children. Not because they’re gifted. Not because they go to a better school. Not because they ingest, thrice daily, a cocktail of ginkgo biloba, Vitamin B12 and amphetamines. They’re superior to your children for one reason only: me.
I accept nothing less than perfection.
Some cultures measure their children’s success by academic performance. They’re wrong. In the real world (meaning the working world, where adults toil in boring jobs to earn money for iPhones), nobody cares about your elementary school report cards. Nobody cares how you did in high school or university. Grades don’t matter.
After you trick an employer into hiring you (interview tip: “My greatest weakness is that I work too hard”), you will succeed in the workplace only if you master office politics, manipulate co-workers for self-benefit, brown nose big wigs, and confidently spout corporate buzz words without actually saying anything (presentation tip: “Our strategic direction initiative addresses all actionable items and ensures robust forward growth in key performance areas to maximize stakeholder value”).
I don’t push my children to get good grades. I push them to work the system so they learn how to gain advantages at the expense of others. Every day, they must suck up to their teachers five times. ( “Best class ever, Ms. Smith.”) They must turn two friends against each other. ( “David said you suck at Mario Kart.”) They must start at least two negative rumours that will shatter the confidence of high achievers (a. k.a. the competition). And they each must persuade another student to trade something good (cookie, toy) for something terrible (vegetable, book).
One useless activity some cultures foist upon their young is learning a musical instrument. Why? You don’t become CEO by butchering Beethoven on a baby grand. You become CEO by stepping over colleagues after stabbing them in the back. Besides, we have Guitar Hero IV on Xbox, so we got the music thing covered.
The most important thing any parent can do is prepare their children for this digital age. To develop their tech chops, my children must play video games for two hours every evening. After that, I make them surf the Internet for two hours, with frequent BlackBerry breaks to hone their texting skills.
Do they complain? Yes, of course. “But Daddy,” Captain Batman Skywalker will say after only an hour of Grand Theft Auto IV, “I want to go outside and play.” “But Daddy,” Princess iCarly Montana will say after only an hour on YouTube, “I want to read a book.”
Do I enjoy denying my children fresh air, exercise and literature? No, I don’t. But parenting isn’t about giving children what they want. It’s about giving them what they need. It’s about preparing them for the future. It’s about distracting them with electronics so you don’t have to interact with them.
Raising prodigies is hard. This kind of parenting is arduous and requires sacrifice, but I do it anyway. It’s the Caucasian way.