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Don’t Give Up on Challenging Kids

3 Things by Laura Kumin, Mother Would Know

3 Things by Laura Kumin, Mother Would Know


When I was a young adult, I had two younger cousins who were holy terrors.

In my twenty-something eyes, they were impossible in every way; they misbehaved, fought with each other, and had no respect for authority.

The episode that really sticks out on my mind was the time our extended family had dinner at a fancy restaurant when they were about five and three years old. They not only climbed under the table, they climbed on top of it! And they didn’t get better as teenagers. I wrote them off as incorrigible.

Fast forward a few decades. The five-year-old terror became a lovely, caring adult. We grew closer as the years between us mattered less than our shared interests and values. Then my own daughter started going through a rebellious period. She was a difficult teenager (at least when it came to mother/daughter “stuff”) and things didn’t get much better when she started college. My cousin, now the mother of two of her own young kids, listened patiently as I bemoaned the situation. Then she spoke to my daughter. Within a few months, my cousin had arranged to take my daughter into her cramped Brooklyn apartment for the summer and helped my daughter find a job. When my daughter went back to college in the fall, our relationship improved dramatically and we’ve done well ever since.

I don’t give up on kids so easily now—and I haven’t issued a judgmental pronouncement about how a kid will turn out in a good long while.


I love to serve home-baked cookies, tarts, and scones. But I’m not the neatest cook/baker.

Even if I have time to prepare a dessert just before guests arrive, the prospect of cleaning up is daunting. Between my ability to dirty every pan and implement I can find, and the “fairy dusting” of flour I inevitably leave in my wake, my kitchen often looks like a tornado hit when all I did was whip up a batch of snickerdoodles.

So I have begun to freeze unbaked cookies, scones and rustic fruit tarts (crostata) on sheet pans. After they freeze, I transfer them into labeled and dated plastic freezer bags. When I want a quick but freshly baked dessert, I take what I need out of the freezer and bake it – without defrosting first. Generally it takes a few minutes longer than a freshly made version, at the same temperature as the original recipe called for.

This tip works for most cookies (even if they aren’t intended to be refrigerated or frozen before baking), tarts that do not contain a cream layer, and all types of scones.

Laura Kumin MotherWouldKnow scone


I’m a National Public Radio junkie. There is rarely a day that I don’t listen to at least an hour or 2 as I go about my chores in the house, drive, or even work with a program playing in the background.

By far, my favorite NPR programs are the Tiny Desk Concerts. The musicians, whom I often don’t recognize, play a short set in a cramped corner of the NPR office, with spontaneity, informality, and beauty that often stops me in my tracks. One of my favorite Tiny Desk Concerts was by a musician I certainly did recognize – Adele. Here it is.


Contributor: Laura from Mother Would Know
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