David Brooks: Sleepovers Are Hard

David Brooks speaks truth to Chinese power-mom Amy Chua in his Times column today.

Chua, you’ll remember, angered a lot of people with a Wall Street Journal essay a few weeks ago about how by threatening to starve her “garbage” children she makes them happy, shiny people who are really awesome at piano.

After making the supercilious suggestion that Chua “doesn’t understand what’s cognitively difficult and what isn’t,” Brooks redeems himself with a kind of great point:

“Practicing a piece of music for four hours requires focused attention, but it is nowhere near as cognitively demanding as a sleepover with 14-year-old girls. Managing status rivalries, negotiating group dynamics, understanding social norms, navigating the distinction between self and group–these and other social tests impose cognitive demands that blow away any intense tutoring session or a class at Yale,” he writes.

Not that we needed to be told so–we barely survived our first three-way calling attack ten years ago.

The argument would be much more compelling if it didn’t sound suspiciously like Brooks’ creepy sociological fable in the New Yorker last week, but we assume Brooks’s forthcoming book, The Social Animal, can be blamed for his preoccupation with butterflies.

kstoeffel@observer.com :: @kstoeffel

David Brooks: Sleepovers Are Hard