7.10.2012

Asian Tigers

I just returned from a week in the Bay Area staying with my parents and catching up with friends.  Though our vacation centered on family and fun, I could not help but pick up some distinct vibes about raising kids in Silicon Valley versus elsewhere.   

Two years ago, the signature comparison was that while the children's museum in Philadelphia (the renowned Please Touch Museum) focuses on "play" ("parents, get down to your child's level and interact with them; react to and interact with their questions about various stations"), the analog in San Jose (the delightful Children's Discovery Museum) is intimidatingly advanced ("can you guess the molecular structure of a bubble?").  


This time, I think it would have to be that while Aaron and Jada are spending the summer swimming and field tripping with their fellow city kids at the Y, my cousin's kids (10 and 12) will be attending (wait for it) app camp, where they will learn how to program apps for cell phones and tablets.  Yes, apparently, the joke about there being an app for everything and a camp for everything have now collided.


As a second generation Asian American, parenting pressure is ever present.  Whether it was explicitly or implicitly drummed into us as kids, there is a clear road map for how childhood is supposed to go: straight A's, piano and/or violin, and a battery of extra-curriculars are just the baseline, from which significantly more impressive resume stuffers are supposed to be added.  


Not that clarity makes implementation any easier, or our sense of what is best for the kid any simpler.  Do we adhere to the plan, throwing sanity to the winds?  If we falter, are we not "Tiger" enough?  Do we do an about-face, and shake our fist at the whole thing as a dangerous idolatry?  Do we find a middle ground, or a new way altogether, and run the risk of being looked at funny by our peers and our parents?  


There is never any real manual for parenthood, so I'm not expecting a clean path.  I'm just expressing the unique challenges faced by second generation Asian Americans.  Especially those who grew up in the Bay Area and then chose to forge a new way in urban Philadelphia.






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