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Stepping Back From the Brink: An Open Letter to Amy Chua

February 11th, 2011  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  3 Comments

Dear Amy Chua,

Look, I know you’d be disappointed in us. (That is, if you took time off from bathing, Scrooge McDuck-style, in your millions to actually consider the situation.) This week we had the chance to develop our dear little Sasha’s intellect: Her preschool was offering Mandarin-language classes! And quasi-after-school, too, meaning both Jean and I could work an extra half-hour or so one day a week. For only an extra $350 per “semester.”

This is, frankly, one of the reasons we signed up with Preschool of America in the first place—the promise of extra “creative” classes: piano, art, kung fu (seriously). We like the idea of Sasha developing herself this way.

Plus, lately Sasha’s been rejecting Chinese. The other day, Jean tried to get her to admit that a piece of bread was “hao chi”—literally, that it was “good eating.”

“No!” yelled Sasha. “No hao chi! Yummy! Delicious! No hao chi!”

And so, the other day, we gave it a shot. Or, really, the school gave it a shot for us. We’d hemmed and hawed, and finally decided against it, but on Wednesday, when I went to pick Sasha up from school, I was informed she’d been put in the Chinese class and wouldn’t be done for another 40 minutes. Very sneaky, I thought, and also very Chinese. To kill time, I went for a drink.

When I finally picked the kid up for real, things were mostly fine. Her teacher, Miss Chen, said that although Sasha, at 2 years 2 months, was the youngest in the class, she’d done well, but had needed help with the writing. Makes sense—the kid can barely draw a circle.

But it was on the way home—yes, this is another of Matt’s dreaded F-train horror stories—that I noticed something different. Sasha was exhausted. And of course, when kids her age are exhausted, they don’t slump quietly and pass out. No, they squirm and writhe and complain. And that’s what Sasha did for the next two hours, until at last we put her to bed—without even giving her a bath! My god!

Anyway, Amy Chua, this is why we’ve decided not to overschedule our toddler. She may be up to the intellectual demands of an after-school Mandarin class, but her body just can’t take it. Maybe this means she won’t get into Harvard. Maybe this means she won’t even get into Yale. But if we don’t have to sacrifice what little domestic bliss remains in our domicile, Sasha’s lifetime linguistic failures will be worthwhile. Besides, there’s always next “semester.” Also: Ritalin.


  1. Didactic Pirate says:

    February 11th, 2011at 10:36 am(#)

    Dear Matt,
    I, Amy Chua, and deeply disappointed in you. Because I, Amy Chua, author of that book about scaring the crap out of your children to ensure high achievement, know that you will someday regret putting an emphasis on your children’s “happiness” and “well-being.”

    Someday, you’ll regret being concerned for your child’s emotional health. I, Amy Chua, Crazy Crackhead Tiger Mom, shake my fist at you. You will RUE THE DAY!!!

    Amy “Dear God Please don’t let my daughters write a memoir about me in twenty years” Chua


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