Tiger Mom I ain’t - Los Angeles Post-ExaminerLos Angeles Post-Examiner

Tiger Mom I ain’t

Once again it is time to start thinking about the end of summer and the beginning of school. My son James would shriek if he read this, because any reminder – outside of hockey or golf practices, which he loves – of the upcoming return to the daily schedule is, in his words, “just mean.” When he said this he was lying upside down off of our family room couch petting the dog. A Doritos bag lay crumpled nearby, and his friends’ stringy backpacks littered the room. (The friends were in the kitchen eating the Dunkin’ Donuts munchkins I had nicely picked up for them hours ago, when it was morning). Yes, it just might be that time.

The book that started the Tiger Non craze by Any CHua.

The book that started the Tiger Non craze by Any CHua.

We need the several remaining weeks, though, thanks to a little concept called “summer reading.” I wish the school would just go ahead and rename this “hysterical crammed-in late-August reading,” because for families like ours, that’s what it is. Of course it was I who drove to Barnes and Noble to pick up both Bleachers and The Gospel According to Larry, my son’s tenth grade reading books. (He has already convinced me to drop him out of honors English with a “c’mon, Mom, let’s get real. Isn’t one honors course enough?” A Tiger Mom I’m not. I’m more of a Panda Mom – squishy and malleable (but fun). I agreed with him, based on the totality of the schedule he has ahead. Balance is my new mantra for him, rather than aggressive world-beating – I figure balance will help him his whole life, if he can begin to learn it now. Plus, in our family we are just not aggressive enough to be world-beaters; we are more world-ticklers.

Barnes & Noble  in San Antonio. (Wikipedia)

Barnes & Noble in San Antonio.

So, I journey up to Barnes and Noble for two paperback books for James. I would go to the public library, but I can’t find my card, I am sure it’s expired anyway, and there is no way on God’s Green Earth that these books will even be available. Note: the library is an amazing place now! I think loaning out books is more of a side-gig at this point! After a half-hour at Barnes and Noble, I end up struggling to the cash register with the following items: the two aforementioned books, a cute kittens calendar, a coffee table book on space travel, a book for another grown son on white-water rafting (he might like to try it!), a slim volume on golf tips for my husband (now it’s like Christmas shopping; I don’t want to leave anyone out), a pack of magnetic book markers (we can all share them, since we will be constantly reading), a bag of Columbian coffee (for the lazy Saturday mornings that we never have), and a travel mug for my son down in Tennessee (I’ll mail it). I stand in line eyeing a cute canvas tote — mainly because I could dump all these items into it immediately — when I am called to the counter.

The pleasant clerk eyes me while I unload. She has been trained to handle shoppers like me. “So,” she trills, busily scanning items, not making eye contact, “do you have a Barnes and Noble reward card? You will save ten percent on all of this today, and then savings every time you come in. Let’s take a look and see, okay?”

Ugh. Everywhere you go now, you need to have a rewards card! It’s no longer good enough just to patronize their shop, you have to do more! Why isn’t just handing over your money good enough? I sigh inwardly.

“I might have a rewards card,” I say tiredly, and then we go through the game I like to call “Did I Give My Home Phone or Cell Phone Number When I Opened This Rewards Account I Never Use?” Whatever phone number I offer, anywhere I go, it is always the other number that gets us into my rewards card “savings” — which I never really see, and don’t really believe in.

Su Lin, the panda bear cub at the San Diego Zoo. (Wikipedia)

Su Lin, the panda bear cub at the San Diego Zoo.

Surprise! No rewards card. So, I spend even more on a rewards card for the year, I promise to activate my online membership as soon as I get home to double my savings (in my mind I am thinking: 0x2=0),  and then I am politely asked if I can be helped to my car with my purchases. I am already inwardly panicking over how much I have spent and am not encouraged when I pass a man at the next counter who is buying one magazine. How marvelously unencumbered he looks! How free and happily un-rewarded! He handed over money and received an item in return, just like the old days! He doesn’t have any mythical points slowing him down! I struggle out the door with my classy plastic bag with an author — Shakespeare? — printed on both sides, and once in the car, call home on my cell phone. James is still asleep.

So, an hour I am eating lunch and reading Bleachers, while I wait for James to wake up so I can drive him to golf, then to hockey, then to a friend’s house. I ask you: is there a rewards card for every mile driven as a mom? They haven’t come up with that yet, but when they do — I should have enough points to buy Barnes and Noble!

But that being said, being a mom is like being in the army — it’s the best job you’ll ever love. Take it from an authentic Panda Mom!

About the author

Deirdre Reilly

Deirdre Reilly has written one humor book, and authored a syndicated family life column for Gatehouse Media for 13 years. She has won a Massachusetts Press Award for humor, her op-eds have been published in the Boston Herald and The Hartford Courant, and she has had short fiction published in literary journals. Deirdre was raised in Columbia, Md., and now lives outside Boston, Ma. She enjoys outdoor pursuits, and is obsessed with the care and happiness of a retired carriage horse named Nello that she bought for a few hundred dollars on a menopausal whim. Contact the author.

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