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It's that time of year again—flowers are blooming,
birds are singing, the sun is shining. Which means parents everywhere
can look forward to attempting to slather a wildly kicking, screaming beast in
a thick coat of white goo every time you want to step outdoors.
Yes, I am
talking about applying sunscreen to the children. The thought of having to
do it makes me want to pack us up and move us to a polar circle. (I'm not sure
which one, but probably the one that has WiFi and Chipotle.)
Being a fair-skinned lady, I take my sun protection
seriously. "Tan" is not in my vocabulary. I'm either white or red.
my 3-year-old daughter takes on a golden French-fry color in the summer, her albino-esque
twin brother is just like me, which means I can't skimp on the SPF.
The plan for myself is pretty straightforward: SPF 50
or higher, a wide-brimmed hat or visor and sunglasses. When I walk the streets
of Brooklyn, I try to find patches of shade wherever possible.
Getting the kids to wear sunscreen is a whole other
matter. When they see me coming with the bottle, they sprint away from me so
fast you'd think they were contestants in the Hunger Games. When I finally
catch them, and I always do, they scream bloody murder as I attempt to coat all
visible patches of skin in a concoction of unpronounceable chemicals so that
they won't die of skin cancer or end up looking like a cast member of "Sunset Tan." By the time I'm done, their
eyes are tearing, their clothes are stained, I'm crying and we are all ready to
go outside and have a great time.
The only thing worse than applying sunscreen to kids
is shopping for it. The choices are too overwhelming. A recent visit to
the drugstore presented a plethora of options that were virtually
indistinguishable from one another. How was I supposed to know which one to
get? There was baby sunscreen, kids sunscreen and something called ultra-kids,
which claimed to offer anti-aging properties. I want to keep my kids
young-looking, so I definitely considered that one. Then there were the sprays,
presumably made for those lazy, hands-off parents who don't enjoy spreading
cream into the tiny folds of their toddler's arms and necks.
I recently read an article that said you should be
using a lot more sunscreen than you think— one application should be the
amount you can fill a shot glass with. Wanting to be a good mom, I took my shot
glasses out of the cabinet. Seven hours later, I woke up on the kitchen floor
grasping an empty bottle of José Cuervo and the hand of a strange man named Jim.
The whole experience made me long for the days when I
was a kid and sun protection was much simpler. Growing up on Long Island in the '80s, before we went outside to play, our parents would hand us a bottle of
baby oil and a sun reflector. We'd set out to find the hood of a hot car to
Simple. Damaging. Done.
I am just going to go out there and say it: I think
God effed up on skin. I mean, shouldn't it be self-protecting and not require
an expensive bottle of goo just to keep from frying outside?