It struck me, standing in the middle of the grocery store in the produce aisle smacked between two buckets of choices—do I buy watermelon with seeds or without?
Nowadays, why in the hell would anyone buy a seeded watermelon? Why waste time gnawing around the annoyance when there’s an easier way?
When I was growing up, there was only one type of watermelon—the kind with seeds. Today, my kids only know the seedless variety. And like the seedless watermelon, these days everything is engineered, manufactured and produced to make life easier, but is it really easier in the long run?
Standing there in the grocery store, I thought about all bonus material I might be missing by taking the easy road and buying the seedless watermelon. Then I considered what a disservice I was doing for my kids. I reached over and grabbed the biggest watermelon from the much-ignored basket holding the green orbs with seeds. “Today,” I thought, “we’re going to learn to eat around the watermelon seeds.”
It’s the truth, you know. Anytime life gets tough, we pull out our maps and find a different way, saying to ourselves, “Forget about going through the muck. I’m out of here.” We do this to ourselves and we’re passing it down to the next generation.
As helicopter moms and dads, we’re killing our kids’ instincts for survival. We’re simply buying their way around the seeds, sparing them any unnecessary hassles life might throw their way. We argue with their teachers over bad grades, we yank them out of schools when the going gets tough and we advise them to Google anything that stumps them. What happened to the days of adapting to different teaching styles, getting banged up on the playground, learning critical thinking skills… and eating around the watermelon seeds?
I, for one, am guilty. I’ve done all these things. I’ve overachieved in my role of being involved, jumping in and solving my kids’ problems, defending them at all costs. And what have they learned as a result? How to eat a seedless watermelon, skirt the issues, rely on others and ask someone else for the answers.
At a very young age, I learned how to be an independent thinker. I was forced to eat my way around the watermelon seeds of life; my parents didn’t just jump in and make things better. They cultivated a safe environment for me to get banged up and bruised by life. I am forever grateful for those opportunities and the lessons I learned. Today’s society has become too controlling, too defensive, too focused on perfection.
My suggestion? Screw things up every once in a while! Who cares if we make a mistake? At least we tried. We took a step; we didn’t let fear freeze us into inaction. I think it’s time we all dig in, get dirty and do the hard work again. Life is both messy and delicious. We have to spit out the seeds, but then we go back for another bite. It’s in those moments that the light truly does shine for us.
Since that day in the grocery store, I’ve been buying seeded watermelons all summer long. We’ve enjoyed the sweetest, juiciest, ripest fruits as a result. The seeds really do make the watermelon taste sweeter. Life is sweeter, too, when we eat around the seeds along the way.
Author: April Adams Pertuis
Editor: Evan Yerburgh
Photo: Author’s Own