Rules of a Mother

Parents of different cultures have different ways of teaching, but one similarity between them all is the unconditional love for their children. All mothers, whether biological or adoptive, play a vital role in her children’s life. They are by their side as they grow up, and teach them ideas, beliefs, and ways of life teachers would never be able to. The mother of Waverly is very strict and believes in the traditional Chinese ways, but still shows her daughter tough love. All these characteristics of the mother are shown through different pieces of dialogue and sentences from the excerpt Rules of the Game, by Amy Tan.

Like how most stereotypical Chinese parents are reflected in various forms of media, Waverly’s mother is extremely strict. “Bite back your tongue,” scolded my mother when I cried loudly, yanking her hand toward the store that sold bags of salted plums.” (Tan, 1) The harsh words and actions Waverly’s mother use shows how strict she is. Unlike other mothers who spoil their children and buy them whatever they want, Waverly’s mother knows how to say no. Although, she isn’t a bad mother and after her daughter learns to not whine and cry for everything she wants, the mother buys her a bag of the salted plums as a reward. “When we got home, my mother told Vincent to throw the chess set away.” (2) Instead of asking for her son to throw the chest set away, the mother seemingly orders him to do it. “My mother’s eyes turned into dangerous black slits. She had no words for me, just sharp silence.” (5) Sometimes, silence is worse than loud, angry words. Waverly describes her mother’s eyes as “dangerous black slits”, something that seems fit for a monster. Though her mother is silent, Waverly is scared by her eyes alone. My mother, like Waverly’s, is also Chinese, and she can be very stern at times as well. For example, she makes me do all my homework first as soon as I get home, as well as finish all my other responsibilities before doing other things. Some people may find it annoying, but I, on the contrary, actually think it is helpful. Because she taught me how to manage my time at a young age, I’ve fallen into a routine of doing my work as soon as possible after school, which will also help me in my future.

Waverly’s mother believes in traditional Chinese culture, and many of their ideas influence her choices as well as what she says. “Wise guy, he not go against wind. In Chinese we say, Come from South, blow with wind-poom!-North will follow. Strongest wind cannot be seen.” (1) Though I have never heard of it, it can be possible that this is a traditional Chinese proverb, which the mother has learned and wishes to teach it to her daughter. “Chinese people do many things,” she said simply. “Chinese people do business, do medicine, do painting. Not lazy like American people. We do torture. Best torture.” (2) Here, Waverly’s mother seems proud of the Chinese, and feels that they are superior to the Americans. “It was her chang, a small tablet of red jade which held the sun’s fire. ‘Is luck,’ she whispered, and tucked it into my dress pocket.” (4) Many different cultures, including the Chinese, have different baubles and such that supposedly bring good luck. For the mother, it is this red jade chang. As a person of Chinese descent, I know a lot about the cultures and sayings the Chinese have. One of the important people in Chinese history is Confucius, and a lot of his sayings and teachings have been turned into proverbs. We study lots of them in Chinese, which I honestly sometimes think is tiring, but they aren’t useless. It is quite interesting to learn such ancient words that are filled with meaning.

Underneath her strict demeanor and seemingly old fashioned Chinese ways, Waverly’s mother loves her daughter, even if it is tough love. “My mother imparted her daily truths so she could help my older brothers and me rise above our circumstances.” (1) Waverly’s mother is aware of the world her children live in, and because she loves them, she works hard so they can rise up and have a better life when they grow up. “Each morning before school, my mother would twist and yank on my thick black hair until she had formed two tightly wound pigtails.” (1) My mother used to do this for me as a child, and even though it hurt and I sometimes cried, I knew she was trying to make me look presentable and not have the nest-like hair I had when I got out of bed. “My mother would proudly walk with me, visiting many shops, buying very little. ‘This my daughter Wave-ly Jong,’ she said to whoever looked her way.” (5) Even in a slightly show-off way, Waverly’s mother is very proud of her daughter. She loves Waverly, and is proud of her achievements, so proud that she wants practically everyone to know. In a book I read recently called Jasper Jones, the mother, like Waverly’s, is also very strict. There are many connections between her mother and Charlie, the protagonist of the book’s mother. Because of the dangerous events going on in Jasper Jones, Charlie’s mother is overprotective of her son. She doesn’t even let him go outside alone to the library, which may seem a bit overboard. But nothing is more important to a mother than her own children, and she will go to the ends of the world to protect them, even in ways that seem unusual or too strict.

It is very difficult to be a mother. Though it may not be my place to speak as a daughter, seeing how hard my mother works to provide a good environment and life for my brother and I, the job of a mother is the hardest one of all. Waverly’s mother and millions of other women in the world have this job. She specifically is very strict and believes in traditional Chinese ways, but deep down still loves her daughter very much. Tough love is still love, much better than the so-called love parents who spoil their children have. If you are a child, tell your mother and your father you love them. A few meaningful words can go a very long way. If you are a mother or a father, tell your children you love them. They may not realize it. The greatest love does not belong to a boyfriend and his girlfriend, or perhaps even a husband and his wife. It belongs to a mother and her child.

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