As the story "Two Kinds" opens, the narrator, Jing-mei, recalls herself as a very young child at the mercy of her mother's desires for her to become a child prodigy. At first, Jing-mei, in her innocence, complies with her mother's aspirations for her and even believes in them herself. The Peter Pan haircut she gets actually makes her "look forward to [her] future fame." She was even more excited than her mother envisioning the type of prodigy she might be, whether a ballerina or Cinderella. With the naive confidence of a child, she believed she would become "perfect" as she grew older.
However, as Jing-mei grew older and her fame and perfection did not arrive, and as her mother demanded more effort from her to become a prodigy, Jing-mei began to lose her innocent compliance and belief in her potential. When she is unable to display a photographic type memory, seeing her mother's disappointment, "something inside of [her] began to die." That something was her innocence--her blind trust in her mother's plans for her. She cries and scratches at herself looking into the mirror, and she sees an "angry, powerful" girl staring back at her. That girl is no longer an innocent little girl, but she is a willful girl who is growing up to know what she wants for herself. At that point, she promises herself she won't be what she is not.
From then on, Jing-mei grows more and more defiant and even rebellious toward her mother, culminating in the day she refuses to practice piano anymore and lashes out at her mother with hurtful words. Growing up and asserting her own will seems to her "like worms and toads and slimy things crawling out of [her] chest," reflecting her awareness that she is no longer an innocent child. Yet there is something that feels good about it--she is growing up into her own person. As Jing-mei went through high school and college, she continued to disappoint her mother, but she was being true to herself, and she did not regret her choices.
In "Two Kinds," Amy Tan portrays growing up as a necessary loss of innocence. Jing-mei could never have become herself if she stayed naively bound to her mother's aspirations. Although she didn't choose the kindest way to assert her independence, if she was to grow to be her own person, she had to be willing to defy her mother's standards, losing her innocence.