Tiger Dad

You may think I’m a little nutty. But when it comes to raising my two sons, Dylan and Cooper, I push them relentlessly. I expect nothing less than perfection. How do I do it? Well, I’ll tell you. I’m a Tiger Dad.For instance, here are some things Dylan and Cooper have never been allowed to do:

  • Ask strangers for directions
  • Use a hand tool when a power tool will do
  • Overachieve
  • Complain about not overachieving
  • Leave a birthday before the party bags come out
  • Let extra-curricular activities interfere with live sports programming
  • Attend a sleepover without packing an Ambien
  • Get any grade that begins with a vowel
  • Forget that it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s whether you get the T-shirt

I use the term “perfection” loosely. I don’t mean it in that psyched-up, supercharged, overzealous, every-hair-in-place kind of way. I mean it in the guy way.After all, underachieving is just as important as overachieving. Even some of our great heroes were underachievers. Think of Albert Einstein failing his college entrance exam. Michael Jordon getting cut from his high school basketball team. Charlie Sheen before “Two and a Half Men.”My son Dylan is just like his mother. Disciplined. Respectful. The kind of kid who always shouts a warning before shooting you in the head with a Nerf dart. Cooper is more like me. Headstrong. Argumentative. He’ll come up with 20 reasons why he can’t take a bath when really just one is enough.I teach my kids to question society’s expectations of men today. If we’re breadwinners, promise-keepers and life-partners, when does that leave time to read the instructions for our GPS-enabled ski goggles? And how can fathers be accused of being distant from their families when the remote control only goes 10 feet?I told Dylan and Cooper that instead of striving for a few short years of glory as a high school jock, they should learn an instrument and get a lifetime of enjoyment from it.For Dylan, it was the vuvuzela. And now, there he is, every sporting event under the sun – baseball, football, women’s mud wrestling – blowing the vuvuzela for all he’s worth. People are astonished by his technique at such an early age. I make sure he practices hours each day so he can eventually master the vuvuzela while holding a beer and doing the Mexican wave.Cooper was drawn to air guitar. Believing that he should get a foundation in the classics, I started him on Jimi Hendrix and the Ventures. We found a terrific teacher, Count Orloffski, who taught the Tom Cruise method. This brought Cooper up to a whole new level. Soon he was playing Van Halen and Slash with a depth and beauty that brought tears to even Orloffski’s jaded eyes.Tiger Dads have to be vigilant, and never miss a teaching moment. The other day we were ordering burgers when the lady asked if I wanted extra cheese. “Extra cheese?” I shot back. “Extra cheese is not extra. It’s my god-given right to have all the cheese that could possibly fit on a bun.” Conscious of the impression this was making on Dylan and Cooper I also asked for extra pickles and relish so all food groups would be represented.Am I pushing too hard? Maybe. But it’s dog eat dog and they need to know how to survive what life is going to throw at them: corporate paintball, unfortunate neckties, C-SPAN. Besides, I want my kids to develop their own appreciation for perfection. The perfect martini, the perfect inning, the perfect excuse to hit the snooze button. I’m a Tiger Dad. Hear me roar. Grrr.