Two Questions About My Kids, Because I Need Your Help

So happy! So sweet! UNTIL…

Not to put you in a Dear Abby situation or anything, but there are a few things my children are doing lately that have me stumped. And so today I’m going to use this site to access your collective genius, if that’s okay with you, because I am fresh out of mom skills to deploy.

Problem #1: How Do You Know When to Let Your Kid Quit?

For many, many years, my parents forced me to take piano lessons. I hated them. They always told me I would be grateful one day. Annoyingly enough, I am. Kendrick also took piano lessons for years – he started at three, was a total musical genius by high school, and went on to be a professional keyboardist after college. I’m sure he also hated taking lessons (maybe not as much as me, but seriously: show me a child who doesn’t hate taking piano lessons).

So we started our son – who, not to sound like a mom or anything, has (I swear) crazy natural talent and an ear like his father’s – on piano lessons. Shockingly, he hated them, and he moaned so much about practicing that Kendrick and I weren’t especially great at having him practice regularly, just because we didn’t want to deal with it (I know, we definitely didn’t handle this very well). He’ll happily sit down and pick out the Avengers theme song by ear, but when it comes to learning notes and how to read music and etc etc, it’s just a constant argument. He’s so good, though – and therein lies the problem. Do I pull the “you’ll be grateful one day” card, or do I just…let him quit?

So here’s my question: How do you find the balance between teaching a kid not to give up, and not forcing them to do things that they don’t enjoy? You want them to feel like they have agency, but also…you know, to do the thing. To work at it, and keep at it.


what to do about terrible three temper tantrums

That’s what she said.

Problem #2: WTF Is Going On With These Threenager Temper Tantrums?

When my son was littler he obviously had his moments, but my daughter – as we know – is a completely different beast. I have never seen anything like her temper tantrums – and what makes them so bizarre is that when she’s not having one, she is the sweetest, cheeriest little love bug. They come out of nowhere. Like a HURRICANE.

Here is what happened yesterday, on our drive back from Los Angeles:

[In the store.] “Honey, would you like me to get you a Lunchable?”


“Are you sure?”


Fifteen minutes later:

“I want a Lunchable.”

“You said you didn’t want one, so I bought something else instead. Would you like to eat this virtually identical, albeit organic-ish dish of meat and cheese and crackers that I bought you? Or maybe one of these four other items, all of which you ordinarily think are delicious?”

“I want a Lunchable.”

“I don’t have a Lunchable.”


“I don’t have one.”


“Still don’t have one.”

–> Commence forty-five solid minutes of nonstop wailing, during which the word “Lunchable” is repeated 1,353,320 times.

What’s that, you say? Pull over the car and talk to her? I have learned from vast experience that there is virtually nothing I can say or do when she’s like this that will stop her. Reasoning does not work. Alternatives don’t work. Gentle voices don’t work. Yelling doesn’t work. Threats of removed toys don’t work. Nothing works. She just escalates further and further – including pinching, throwing things, and so on – for up to an hour (!), at which point she accepts one of the options that I have been offering her all along, hugs me, and returns to human form. So yesterday, I just kept driving, figuring hey, at least she’s contained (car seat) and I have the ability to drown her out with the radio while she does what she’s going to do regardless (yes, terrible, whatever: sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do).

I would never have dared do this. Were my parents just…scarier than me? I think I’m pretty scary!

Seriously, guys: is this just a phase? (Please tell me it’s a phase. But even if it is, I’m going to need some advice on how to handle it in the meantime, because I am done.)


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