Tag Archives: parenting

Watermelon Seeds Make You Pregnant


Informant (C): Remember at Walton’s when we used to have watermelon and I refused to eat it and said I was allergic?

Collector (J): Yeah

C: I was never actually allergic and I actually really liked watermelon, but when I was at school some other dumbass kid told me that people got pregnant from eating watermelon seeds so I was crazy paranoid about like, being a child mother, and so I just avoided it like the plague because I didn’t want a kid.

J: Really?

C: Yeah, because, like, my mom was pregnant like my sister and the kid said “oh she probably ate watermelon” and I was like “what?” and they were like “well, like, she has a watermelon in her tummy” or whatever and my dumbass just fell for it. I thought that, like, if you swallowed the seed, you would grow a watermelon in your stomach and then the baby would form in the watermelon. Like now I know that’s ridiculous, but like it was believable as a kid because I didn’t know about sex. I guess that kid’s parents or someone told them that because they didn’t want to explain the whole “your mom and dad had sex” thing. But yeah, after I learned about sex I started eating watermelon again.

Context: C and J met at a summer camp (Walton’s). At the end of each camp session, there was a camp-wide barbeque where watermelon was served.

Analysis: Like the informant said, this belief likely started as a way to wholesomely tell kids how their mothers got pregnant. Instead of explaining puberty and sex, the narrative of having a woman swallow a watermelon seed is easier to explain to a child. It also makes physical sense, because a pregnancy belly does approximate the size of a small watermelon. The inside flesh of the watermelon also arguably could resemble human flesh, which is why it is so believable that a baby can be formed in it. There is also something to be said about the association of fruits and fertility, with the human and plant lifecycle often being associated with each other. The cyclical nature of life as both human and watermelon allow a further association to be made with the human gestation period. Overall, the idea that pregnant women are carrying watermelons and are pregnant because of watermelon seeds isn’t that far-fetched from the eyes of a child who has no knowledge of sex.

Ginger and dough for colds

The informant is a 20-year-old friend from Los Angeles, CA whose family is Afghani. He volunteered this remedy during a discussion about cold remedies with a few of our friends.

Note: The initials JJ denote the informant, while A refers to me, the interviewer.


JJ: In my family, we use ginger and dough for sore throats and colds.

A: Dough? Like bread, dough?

JJ: Yeah. Sweet dough. You mix it, and then you turn it into a ball–ok, first, you add some sugar, flour, water…so you have your dough, and then you wrap it around a piece of ginger, and then you cook it.

A: In the oven?

J: No, in a pan. Just until it’s hot and crispy. And then, when you eat it, that’s supposed to help with your sore throat. I think it’s the ginger that does the actual, like, healing.

A: So what’s the point of the dough?

J: I don’t know. I don’t think it actually does anything. It’s like, just to make a…like, a container for the ginger. Because we didn’t want to eat straight-up ginger, so it was to make it taste better.


Ginger is used in a lot of cultures for cold remedies; my mother makes ginger tea with honey for my sister and I when we are sick, so hearing ginger cited in another cold remedy didn’t surprise me. What I did find interesting was the dough; my friend included the dough as PART of the cold remedy, but also admitted that it actually served no purpose. Ginger was what was actually used to “cure” the cold, but the dough had always been included as part of the remedy when it was given to him. It reminded me of the many ways that parents try to make unpleasant things more pleasant for their children, not only in terms of medicine but also in general–for example, my mother used to put sugar at the bottom of my cups of milk to get me to drink them, and I know that some parents sing songs to their children to distract them when disinfecting scrapes and minor wounds.

Hawaiian Proverb

Note: The form of this submission includes the dialogue between the informant and I before the cutoff (as you’ll see if you scroll down), as well as my own thoughts and other notes on the piece after the cutoff. The italics within the dialogue between the informant and I (before the cutoff) is where and what kind of direction I offered the informant whilst collecting. 

Informant’s Background:

My mother’s mother’s mother and even from before her are from Hawaii but some England roots are interjected into the bloodline as well. My mother’s father’s father’s father hails half from Hawaii and the other half from China and Portugal. But what is funny about most Hawaiians, is that they are not only Hawaiian. They are also Caucasian, Portuguese, Chinese, Filipino, Samoan, Japanese, Korean, e.t.c…….Plantation workers were brought in to work the sugar and pineapple fields and they brought their culture with them.

Piece and Full Translation Scheme of Folk Speech:

Original Script: I maika’i ke kalo i ka ‘oha 

Transliteration:  I maika’i ke kalo i ka ‘oha 

Translation: The goodness of the taro is judged by the young plant it produces.

Piece Background Information:

 I maika’i ke kalo i ka ‘oha ” basically means that “parents are often judged by the behavior of their children”.


Context of Performance:

Via email.

Thoughts on Piece: 
The informant is my half-sister and we have over a 20 year age gap. I met her when our father was dying and I immediately noticed her mother-like qualities as she was very caring and would look after me and my sisters in light of the difficult time. She is a mother of seven and has home-schooled all of her children (including some who are older than me) and also loves to cook for, and support her children at their sports meets. That being said, when I asked her if she had any Hawaiian folklore to share, it came to no surprise that she shared this proverb on parenting. Her believing that the actions of her kids reflect on her own parenting, like a responsible parent should, clearly demonstrates to me why she is such a good parent.

White Spots for Lies

“You know those white spots under your nails? My mom told me that I would get one of those for every lie I told.”

The informant was told this constantly by her mother, and it was obviously a way for her mom to scare her into always being honest. She said she also felt a sense of guilt because she had some white spots under her nails (actually due to a calcium deficiency) so she felt like she may have lied without knowing it. Obviously when she got older she realized this wasn’t true, but she says that everytime she looks down at her nails she’s reminded of it, so in a way her mother is always there to remind her to be honest. This reminder, even when she is old enough to know the original statement isn’t true, shows the insight her mom must have had in telling her this and instilling this semi-fear into her at a young age. Many parents say things like this, like my mom always said my nose would grow if I lied, so it makes sense that every parent comes up with their own version of it to instill honest values in their kids.

Make sure you have good parenting

The following story was not told directly to my informant, but rather to her older brother. When she was eight years old, she was riding in the back seat of the car and overheard her dad telling her thirteen year old brother this story. Though it was not intended for her it stuck in her mind because of how bizarre it was.

“Um, apparently this guy, his mother never disciplined him so he grew up to be quite the… deviant person. Ended up getting arrested, going to jail, and having to be executed because of all the poor choices he made in life, and uh… then, before he was executed, when they asked what he would like as his last whatever… ya know, do you have any final requests. Anything you want before you bet executed tomorrow. And he said he wanted his mothers breast milk… of all the weird things. He wanted to have milk from his mother’s breast. So they’re like “ok…”, so they had his mom come in and rather than suckling her nipples and taking the milk out, he mauled her breasts until they came off and she bled to death. He murdered his mother and when he asked him why he did it he said because she never disciplined me and I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her.”

The purpose of the story was to emphasize to her brother the necessity of good parenting. As the story says, this boy would not have ended up on death row if his mother had properly disciplined him. Thus, any forms of discipline that may seem strict or unfair can be justified through the use of this tale.

Sana Sana Culito de Rana

Sana sana, culito de rana
Si no sanas hoy,
Sanarás mañana


Heal heal, little ass of frog
If it doesn’t heal today
It will heal tomorrow

This is a rhyme that parents, usually moms, will say to their kids when they get a little injury. My informant said that it’s like a mom kissing a boo-boo and that you can hear a lot of Latin mothers say this to their kids; he learned it from his. Sometimes there will be variations on it such as:

“sana, sana, culito de rana,
si no se te alivia ahora,
se te aliviará mañana”

it heals, heals, little ass of frog,
if it is not alleviated to you now,
is alleviated to you tomorrow

Sometimes parents will change “ass” to “tail” or “bottom” for little boo-boos and keep it as “ass” for boo-boos that hurt a lot.



The subject’s grandfather and immediate family were out to dinner when the subject and his grandfather got into a disagreement. The subject’s grandfather yells at him. After the dinner the subject was still upset about the incident as he had never been yelled at before. His father explained why he never yells at him through an old saying

About the clouds and the sun…

“One day the Clouds and the Sun saw a man with a coat down on earth. The Cloud and Sun entered into a competition to see who would be able to make the man take off his coat first. The Cloud tried first by creating horrible howling winds which in turn only made the man tighten his coat. The Sun tried next by shinning brightly. The man in the coat, figuring it was a nice day and that he should enjoy it, took it off. “

The moral of the story, for the subject, was that you can achieve the same effect, if not better, if you are pleasant.  In an effect, the subject’s father never yelled at the subject because he felt that he could achieve the same end by not raising his voice.

I think that the subject’s father gave the subject that illustration to capture the essence of his parenting style. We can only assume that the father used the illustration to also indicate that his father, the subject’s grandfather, had another style of parenting probably symbolized by the sun in the story.