In Amy Tan's short story "Two Kinds," Jing-mei is a regular nine-year-old girl who wants nothing more than to be herself and just be a kid. On the other hand, her mother, dreams of nothing but making her daughter a prodigy. "Two Kinds" clearly illustrates that parents cannot control their children's lives; they can only guide them in the right direction and let them make their own decisions.
Throughout the story, Jing-mei's mother does many things in an attempt to dominate and control her daughter's life. Jing-mei is forced to go through many lessons and tests given to her by her mother in order to try to find out what kind of prodigy she is going to be. She does everything from memorizing state capitols to finding the queen of hearts in a deck of cards to standing on her head without using her hands. "After seeing my mother's disappointed face once again, something inside of me began to die. I hated the tests, the raised hopes and failed expectations- (501).
Even though Jing-mei shows absolutely no interest in becoming a prodigy, her mother keeps on persisting, signing her up for piano lessons. When Jing-mei learns of this decision she is highly upset. "When my mother told me this, I felt as though I had been sent to hell" (503). Jing-mei's reference to "hell" expresses her angst toward her mother's decision. Her plea to her mother to be a normal child comes after she is told the dates of her piano lessons. "Why don't you like me the way I am? I"m not a genius! I can't play the piano- (503). Jing-mei took the piano lesson every day despite what she wanted to do. She went through the motions at the piano lessons she never put any effort into it because she was being forced to be there. "I did pick up the basics pretty quick, I might have become a good pianist at a young age. But I was determined not to try, not to become anybody different." (504).
Her mother eventually enrolls her in a recital so that she can showcase all of her talent.