Amy Chua may be tough enough to keep a couple of little girls and an academic husband in line, but she can’t make me do anything I don’t want to do. Not only am I bigger than her, I’m pretty handy with a field hockey stick. Her shins look kind of delicate, is all I’m saying.
But I think we can all take something useful from the Tiger Mother, and to that end what I really want to tell you is this: I have recently become concerned about my dog’s modesty. When I take him out to the grass to whizz, inevitably someone drives by and starts staring at him. Apparently, people are helpless not to gape in fascination at a bulldog all hunched over and doing his business. Bulldogs are pretty stout to begin with, so when they hunch over and start grunting they become a solid ball of bulging eyes and dingleberries, and if you’re seeing it for the first time, it’s impossible not to wonder what the hell is going to happen next. Is it giving birth? Is this how we get bologna?
Whenever a person drives by and I catch them staring at my grunting, pooping dog–and who knows, maybe it’s just because you don’t see that many bulldogs out in the wild. Bulldogs are pretty crazy looking, even when they’re just standing around waiting for a bus. It’s not like they need to wear motorcycle jackets or leap through flaming hoops to get attention. But if you’re going to stare in fascination at my dog while he quietly knits a Dr. Who scarf and you’re about to drive over a curb, it’s time for you to refocus. Maybe I’m doing this as much for you, the driver, as I am for my dog, but it’s now my habit to protect my dog’s privacy from the prying eyes of strangers by carefully stepping in front of his back end, blocking it from view.
Yes, I know he’s “just a dog,” and has a different set of boundaries than you and I, but if you persist in staring while he performs his toilet you will be rewarded with a couple of things you might prefer not to see. Me turning a biodegradable bag inside out to make a hot, thumbless glove for myself and then freeing the clingons from beneath his curly little tail, for one. Go ahead, wince. You’re not the one who had to pay a vet to shave his butthole.
So, like the Tiger Mother (you were wondering how I was going to tie this all together, weren’t you!) I am fiercely protective of the dignity of my hairy little cub (in person if not online). I also drill him daily on his spelling and vocabulary, and someday he’s going to roll over and play dead at Carnegie Hall.