The older my daughters get, the more they want to conform.
Now that Yanrong and Yanbei are in Secondary 1 and Primary 5 respectively, I am seeing more of the "I want to keep my head down" syndrome from them.
This attitude manifests itself even more as far as school is concerned.
My young and impressionable daughters see teachers as falling into two broad categories: the fearsome and the admired. Sometimes both. Some have even achieved cult-like status.
I remember Yanrong, my older daughter, putting in a lot of hard work for Chinese last year, partly because she wanted to impress her language teacher.
Any hint of disapproval from the teacher would be met by a redoubling of effort. She was not alone either. There were a few other classmates who behaved the same way.
Obviously, I have no complaints if fear of or, better yet, respect for teachers has the effect of instilling in my daughters a greater sense of discipline and accountability. However, I reckon it takes more than just the fear or love of a teacher to get them to behave.
After all, my wife and I can be as fearsome as any teacher when the occasion calls for it and I'm sure their affection for a teacher isn't on the same scale as that for family.
So why aren't they as obedient with us as they are with their teachers? The pseudo- psychologist in me suggests that teachers have a weapon that parents don't - an audience.
The prospect of public shaming is a strong deterrent against not toeing the line.
As a student, you don't want to be singled out for scolding by your teacher in front of classmates or, worse, the entire cohort.