“You are not going out with that boy unless his parents are driving and that's that. I'm not just Spitting Grits here, young lady!”

. . . My father, John Thomas Cravey, USAF, to me in 1956.

Nuke the Tutu: Our Founding Fathers Speak

I pick up Joanna Leigh from pre-school, dash to the Ballet Academy in town, tear off school clothes, sling on her pink tutu, pink tights, pink ballet shoes – all from her pink Barbie clothes bag, and run her into the practice room with the one-way window pane.

A mom and dad are standing behind me. “You devastate them, Sugar Pie,” the father mutters out loud as the girls bend at the knees, arms over their head, and twirl in place. “You show ‘em, honey.”

The little girl behind the one-way mirror spent a lot of the class time looking out to see how mom and dad were reacting to her performance. Finally, they just kept pointing at the teacher to get Sugar Pie to pay attention. Sugar Pie was just shrugging, like she didn’t understand.

Mom and dad weren’t kidding.

After an hour of practice, practice, practice, we get home for bath, hair washing and styling, teeth brushing and whitening, and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.

“Mama Jo, I’m tired,” says Joanna Leigh.

“You’re WHAT!!! You must do those pas de deux and pass├ęs until you get them right. Then tomorrow you have gymnastics, and you’ve got to practice the tumbles.”

“But, . . .” she inserts.

“Don’t ‘but’ me, little girl (she’s 3-1/2, by the way). You don’t get busy now, I’ll put the tutu, tights, ballet shoes, AND TAP SHOES in a pile and NUKE them,” I scream.

Oh, my gawd, STOP. I’m KIDDING!


“I was kidding” is what Amy Chua told Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report. Yale professor and author of the recent and controversial Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, said, “the book is a memoir; it’s supposed to be funny, a self-parody,” she argued, because it didn’t work with her 13-year-old daughter.

Chua explained to Time magazine that her first daughter was more compliant.

Then along came Lulu, says Time. “As a fetus, she kicked – hard. As an infant, she screamed for hours every night. And as a budding teenager she refused to get with her mother’s academic and extra-curricular program.”

Oh, ma gawd. Now they’re invoking Nature over Nurture. I’m confused!

Chua explained to Colbert that the values behind the Tiger Mother approach: “The values of hard work, don’t give up, and don’t blame others are fundamental American values, the ones championed by our Founding Fathers.

Ok, now it’s our Founding Fathers who’d nuke the tutu. Totally bewildering.

The interview just got funnier, and I laughed a lot. Until I started thinking about it all.

Activities Activities Activities

I look at Joanna Leigh and see a gymnast waiting to happen, so she’s signed up for lessons at pre-school, along with a kiddie computer program. In the last year or so, I’ve tried to provoke her curiosity and look for interests – the moon, swimming, movies, lots of events and performances, including Children’s Theatre, The Nutcracker, Ringling Bros. Circus.

Guess who won. Clara! She wants to be Clara in the Nutcracker. So, off to ballet we went, to sign up, buy the outfits, pay for Recital expenses – way in advance.

Am I turning into the ballet Nazi????

Is there a book in this????

Next weekend we’ll go to a University of Alabama gymnastics meet. Our extremely talented and accomplished team is always a contender for a National Championship.

Ah ha! Now I can spend whatever is left of my daily life stuffing the gymnast template down her throat, raging, refusing to relent. That ought ‘a do it.

I’ll invoke the Founding Fathers when I like something and Nazis when I don’t like something. That makes sense.

I’ll make political statements though my granddaughter: The Chinese way is superior, because they own us.

Nuke me!

According to the Chinese horoscope, I am a Water Lamb (1943) and Joanna Leigh is a Fire Pig (2007).

A Water Lamb doesn’t stand much of a chance against a Fire Pig. Maybe that’s where Amy Chua went wrong; she didn’t check the Chinese horoscope.


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