LESSON LEARNT: An embarrassing watermelon incident proves why children should listen to their mothers.
LESSON LEARNT: An embarrassing watermelon incident proves why children should listen to their mothers. Emily Smith

I learnt the hard way why you shouldn't eat watermelon skin

I DON'T know if it's a consequence of modern living or it's the fact that I'm involved with training young people. However, when I am asked a question by my kids, or any young person for example, they tend to get lengthy and detailed explanations.

That's the opposite of when I was a boy, (I can hear my kids groaning now), many times the standard answer to questions was "because I bloody well told you so."

If I persisted with needing a further explanation it might often be followed by, "shut up or I'll give you a belting."

Sometimes instead I'd get an answer that was overly simplistic, such as it will make you blind. That's not what nice people do, or it will give you a tummy ache.

I was looking at pictures last week of all the watermelons at the Pig and Calf Sale and it reminded me of one such time and how I've learnt that sometimes a further explanation is needed. No matter if it's nice or nasty. I remember a family holiday from when I was about 10. Somewhere around Ballina. I remember eating dinner around a barbecue and then having watermelon for dessert.

Now I'd always been told not to eat the rind of the watermelon, so being a good boy I never had. It gave you a tummy ache I'd been told.

Now being a bit older and starting to be a bit rebellious, I decided to give the rind a go. Egged on by my sister no doubt. Maybe even a dare.

I nibbled on a bit. It was bland but not offensive, so I nibbled a bit more. It certainly wasn't giving me an immediate tummy ache, so I ate the entire thing. Then I ate another big piece, rind and all. No tummy ache. What was mum talking about? My tummy was fine!

If I've learnt one thing in my life, it is that mums are rarely wrong, if ever. Especially when it comes to matters of a little boy's stomach.

The prediction came true a few hours later. When we were all tucked up and asleep in our caravan at the local van park. It was not so much a tummy ache, rather an immediate and unstoppable need to go to the toilet.

I suppose "tummy ache" may really have been code for "explosive diarrhoea incident", but mums were probably way too polite to use that term.

Any "malaise" of the intestinal or gastric region was then best just described as a "tummy ache."

Anyway, little 10-year-old me was now faced with a major dilemma. I needed to get out of the van really quickly without waking anyone up. Problem was that the van doors were dead locked and I couldn't find the key.

Pretty soon my scrabbling about woke everyone up but at least that meant that Mum could tell me where the key was - except she couldn't find it either. Just as I thought that I surely must explode the key was produced and I was out of the van.

Phew, my dignity, or what was left of it was retained - or so I thought.

I sprinted to the toilet block and got there still in time to save the day, but I'd forgotten another detail. I didn't have the key to the block. There was no happy ending. The inevitable occurred.

The tears of shame poured out - along with the other unmentionable bodily fluids. I trudged back to the van covered in my filth.

Mum, ever knowledgeable was holding the keys to the toilet block. "You'll need these" she said in her knowing voice as I emerged from the shadows.

"I need a towel and some new pyjamas too, Mum," I sulked, "I don't need to use the toilet any more."