Monday, June 28, 2010

How do we ruin our children?

A few minutes ago I was sitting on the bed, making sure my 6-month-old didn't crawl off. OK, maybe crawl is the wrong word. He wiggles and squirms and otherwise moves and sort of makes progress in a direction either toward what interests him, or in the exact opposite direction. It's always unfortunate when your gyrations don't lead you toward your goal. Today was a good day, he was progressing toward his goal.

It amazed me how he would wiggle and squirm with all his might until he got closer to his goal. Children have an unrelenting persistence. So, the kid would move closer to the edge of the bed (that was his goal as far as I could tell), and I would pull him back to the middle. Then he would wiggle his way to the edge again. Over and over again, that kid would put his all into moving to the edge of the bed. Over and over again, I would pull him back to the center. Really, it was in his best interest. It's amazing to think of the perseverance that it takes to learn to walk, talk, socialize and otherwise grow up. Think of the set-backs that this kid will experience. Imagine how many times he will fall, fail to communicate, socialize or otherwise live a 'perfect' life.

Yesterday my wife was helping the 4-year-old ride his bike for the first time without training wheels. He crashed. He crashed numerous times. He crashed in the grass. He crashed on concrete. He even crashed into the van once. Each time he shed a few tears and jumped up with a huge grin to do it again. Some day he will ride a bike without training wheels and will go off jumps, dodge obstacles and do other stunts that his father thinks are a bad idea.

Give them 20 years and they will be typical adults. (At least we're hoping for typical in some ways... in other ways we're praying that they will be anything but typical). If they are anything like me they will grow up to have fears and anxiety. Fears of failure and fears of success. Fears to try things because of what others might think. Fears that prevent them from being genuine. I find it interesting that many of my greatest fears are the things that make children progress so quickly. The things that I fear most are the things that I feel that I need to protect my children from.

Maybe instead of protecting, I should follow their lead? ... I'm too afraid to try.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Generally my blog posts come from a fleeting thought. I get a little idea, I sit down and write about it and I hit the post button and hope for the best. Today is a topic more near and dear to my heart. This is a thought I have pondered for years and never had the courage to express. I believe that others may have other views and I quite frankly think they are wrong.

I am going to address the preparation, presentation and consumption of watermelon. First off, I think that this issue is drastically under-discussed. Watermelon is, without exception, the greatest food available to man. When prepared, presented and eaten properly, watermelon is the most divine of foods. If the preparations are undertaken with haste or without thought, watermelon becomes an OK food that is backwards and awkward.

Preparation: To start, watermelon has to be cold. Store the melon in the refrigerator for at least several hours before consuming. Next, the watermelon has to be sliced. There is no alternative. The slices should be anywhere from 1-5 inches thick, depending on how hungry you are. The ends of the watermelon should be discarded, only slices of watermelon with pink on the top and bottom and green all the way around the edges should ever be served. To further cut a watermelon into wedges is the destruction of a perfectly good food. It is the wedge shape that absolutely destroys a watermelon and the delectable goodness that it stands for.

Presentation: The watermelon should be served with the wider side up on a plate that is slightly larger in circumference than the melon slice. Watermelon should always be served with a spoon. A silver spoon is most appropriate, but any metal spoon will produce satisfactory results. A napkin is not required when serving watermelon. If you are really going to enjoy the watermelon, you have to be willing to put up with some spoon spray and mouth drippage.

Consumption: To eat a watermelon you press the spoon into the flesh, turn the spoon 360 degrees and form a perfect watermelonspoon shape. Watermelonspoon is the official name of the shape that is extracted from a slice of watermelon by inserting a spoon and turning it 360 degrees. It is not quite a sphere, but really there is no other name for the shape, therefore I named it myself. Watermelonspoon shapes of watermelon should be taken from the outer pink edges of the watermelon first. You should take the melon from as close to the rind as you can, so as not to waste any of the sweet goodness, but this is the least sweet part of the melon so consume it first before you move onto the center portions. The key to eating watermelon is to eat a ring of watermelon that is just inside the rind, leaving the center (the heart) for the last. If your outer ring is not wide enough, there will be some pink flesh left that either contains seeds, or contains the little pock marks where seeds should be. The seed area is the next area that needs to be eaten.

At this point your plate should be a ring of rind to be discarded and the very center, brightest pink area of the heart left. This is the best part of the watermelon. If you massacre a watermelon and serve it in wedges, the heart -- the very best part of the watermelon-- is the first bite and it just gets worse from there. If you eat a watermelon correctly, you save the heart for the last and you have the opportunity to enjoy the pinnacle of nature's sweetness and savor it in your mouth for the rest of the evening.

While it doesn't really matter how long you take to eat the outer portions of your watermelon, the heart is to be savored. Every bite should be extremely small and consumed slowly in order to maximize the enjoyment of the fruit. When you take that final bite, you are done and should discard the rind. You should NOT, however wipe your face. You should let the ultimate sweetness that dribbled down your chin remain on your face as a reminder of your recent consumption of perfection.

If you have any questions on how to eat a watermelon, please let me know. I am always at your service and would love to demonstrate the proper techniques.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Another garden parable

Unlike my tomatoes, my strawberries had the right goal all along. They were thriving, pushing their greenness toward the sun and sending little balls of sweet red goodness off in every direction.

My strawberries had found their purpose in life. They were living large and accomplishing their dreams.

One morning I came out to find that much of my strawberry patch had been torn up and the strawberry plants were thrown all around and otherwise trampled. Before I blamed the kids, I observed for awhile and found that it wasn't the kids who had done this, it was the chickens.

Most of the dirt in my yard is covered in something that is growing or mulch. The strawberry patch is an exception. The birds found that the strawberry patch was the perfect place for a dirt bath, except the strawberries were in the way. The chickens didn't have anything against the strawberries, but they needed that dirt to bathe. The strawberries depended on the dirt to reach their goals, it was the foundation of everything strawberries were able to become.

The chicken went after the strawberries, not to destroy the strawberries, but to be able to use the dirt for a bath. The strawberries were scratched, pecked and otherwise trampled and pushed out of the way so that the chickens could use the dirt for another purpose.

My thoughts are done. I like the tomato story better. I need to find a conclusion to this one. The lesson could be that some will trample your goals and dreams just to get at something they want, but I don't like that. Surely there is a better lesson here.