Which Skin Do You Want? Thin Tomato or Thick Watermelon?
Learn how visions of fruit reduce conflict.
My child was melting into a puddle of frustration. It was impressive. Full ugly cry, waterworks, stamping feet, and wails that would make a fire engine proud.
I don’t remember what it was about specifically, only that her friend said something she was hurt by. I was somewhere between disrespectfully laughing because the drama was spectacular and searching for some way to reduce her pain. It was difficult to see such distress.
Lest you think me uncaring, I’ll just mention this was a common reaction with this youngster. I considered renting her out as a siren to the emergency services squad.
There isn’t a parent out there who hasn’t had to turn away to wipe hilarity from their face to present a more appropriately serious expression.
We sat together on the floor, waiting for the storm to quiet. Gentle back scratches helped, yet I knew solace wasn’t enough. This was an opportunity for life skills training. Sigh, another damn growth opportunity I had to deliver.
When the gales subsided, I nicked the skin of an almost bursting summer-ripe tomato. It was the perfect prop to talk about ways to cope with people that frustrate us.
“See how easy it is to cut this tomato’s thin skin?
That’s what you feel like right now. You’re squishy on the inside, and a small poke breaks your skin easily. All your juices are running out.”
I then exaggerated the difficulty of slicing a watermelon.
“Look how much more it takes to open the watermelon because of its thicker skin. Like the tomato, it’s sweet and juicy on the inside, just more protected.”
“Sometimes, having a thin skin on can make us frustrated and hurt quickly. When we pretend we are wearing a thicker skin, like a watermelon, things people do don't get to us so easily. It can help us slow down and think about what’s bothering us. It’s not easy to settle down when we’re hurt, yet we can choose which skin to wear.”
Sharing the watermelon provided a tasty segue into the next activity, and the upset was over.
If nothing else, seeing ourselves in a silly fruit suit can add a little lighthearted distance that helps us choose a good way to think about what’s bothering us.
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