Thursday, August 20, 2009

Were you born as a box of hair?

One of my favorite things to bitch about is people who do what they are told. Just doing what they think they are supposed to be doing without ever so much as an independent thought wafting through all those unused brain cells.

Last week, we were at our little community pool. It is a great place for kids. Really, this is a great town for kids but that is another subject. The pool is intended for small children and at its deepest is probably less than 2 feet deep. Anyway, it is a pool. And when you are at a pool you put sunscreen on your children. When you go outside at all, you put sunscreen on your children. That's what you do. That's what Parent magazine says to do. Probably even Readers' Digest says, put sunscreen on your kids every time they leave the house. Obviously the label on the sunscreen bottle says, put this on whenever a ray of sun could reach you. If you don't, well, unspecified really horrible tragedies will befall your precious offspring. You know, we used all that hairspray in the 80's and killed the big ozone filter in the sky (although my hair looked really great, big hair suits me well) so now the sun will annihilate your children. Guilt and threat of death, a powerful combination.

(Does anyone know if those other chemicals in sunscreen are healthy? I don't).

So there we are at the pool. Myself, and my nakedly sunscreen free children risking unspecified horrible tragedies. We were going to stay for about an hour, so I did not break out the sunscreen. Teena tans, but Genea is more like me where we don't really tan and it takes a long time for us to burn. But here is the real deal. There was no sun that day, and none was coming. Just clouds out.

No sun, just clouds, and in fact rain was coming. Now of course I know that sun can get through the clouds anyway, but not very much. Along comes what appears to be a mom, a grandmother and 3 children ages about 3 to 8. Everyone is excited and ready to have fun! And they all had to stand and wait for 15 minutes to get sunscreen lathered all over themselves by their mother who was determined that not an inch of flesh could be exposed to a potential unspecified horrible tragedy.

Now, I am not anti- sunscreen. However, I reserve it for times outside when we are going to be out a long time and oh yeah, there is SUN somewhere. This particular day, not only was it rain cloudy, but the clouds were deep and heavy and dark. The kind of day when if you were inside you would need lights on, it was that dark out. The clouds were so thick it was the equivalent of being under a sleeping bag designed for sub zero temperatures. No sun is going to get in that sleeping bag either.

But what if the group was going to be out there a really long time? A ray of sun could squeak through the sleeping bag clouds. Then they might need all that sunscreen, and they will not have been ready! Well they weren't. I heard the mom saying that they were only going to be there for a half hour or so, (plus 15 minutes of sunscreen application time), so they had better go have their fun right away. Along with about 100 other constant warnings per minute to the 3 kids. Don't stick your toe in there. You could get hurt. Don't get so close to the wall. Don't get in the water. You could get hurt. Stop getting so wet in that pool. You could get hurt. Don't throw the ball at your brother (okay, I am embellishing). One of those where the stream of badgering is so incessant you know that every last ounce of fun has been sucked right out of the day. The kids meanwhile have moved as far away from their mother as they could get on the other side of the pool. No wonder. (I am a big believer in let them get hurt as long as there will be no lasting damage or stitches involved. Overprotecting and incessant badgering teaches dependency and they still don't learn until they experience it anyway).

So that is my bitch-fest for today. I can't stand it when people don't think for themselves! Hate it! Makes me nuts! Okay, was the sunscreen going to hurt them? No, probably not. Does it really matter? No. Was this in any way, shape or form affecting me? Er.... no.



  1. Except it WAS affecting you, 'cause you had to listen to all the nagging...
    I just wanted to delurk to say I love your blog:)
    Anne (adoptive mom to Elizabeth)

  2. Actually, I grew up in Arizona where they taught us about skin cancer and the dangers of the sun. They say that you should put sunscreen on especially on cloudy days because apparently it is worse than when the sun is out.

    That still didn't make me put sunscreen on myself. lol I barely got my first burn ever this year, usually I tan...but hell, my kids...if the sun comes in the window and reflects on them across the room, they get burnt. *rolling eyes*

  3. Mothers worry about different things. I ought to write a whole blog about this. I have a very good friend who was always worried about safety. If her boys were invited for an overnight the sort of thing she would think about would be the fire escape plan for that house, the possibility of radon gas, the concern that that mother might home-can her vegetables - and did she do it SAFELY? All the worries that would never even begin to come near to crossing my mind.

    I, meanwhile, if my children were given a similar invitation would wonder - will they watch a movie? What if it is not "G" rated? What about music - would rap music with bad words be played in that home? Are the ideas and values that might be expressed by adults in that home the ideas and values I want my children hearing? What about the artwork on the walls? Is it quality????

    So totally different. Marilyn would presume the moral safety; I would presume the physical safety.

    The only time I put sunscreen or insect repellent on my children is when some handbook requires it. Like you I'm thinking - this CAN'T be good for them! In twenty years the carcinogenic quality of this is going to be well known.

  4. Probably those kids' skin has NEVER seen the light of day unprotected, so maybe 1/2 hour of cloud laden sun WOULD fry them. You know, kind of like if a tee-totaler had a cocktail, vs. you know, a normal person having one. Just a thought...

    Of course if she REALLY was that protective, she'd have applied 30 min. before leaving the house. hehe.

    I do sunscreen my kids, but I hate it. So time consuming to cover four little bodies! I buy the spray stuff cause it's quicker and just give everyone a cursory once over, except Ben, who is really quite fair and freckles, and I do give him the college try at protecting his sensitive skin.

  5. I just makes sure my kids are super dirty so I don't have to do the sunscreen thing. I am a good mom like that. No chemicals in dirt (just as long as you don't have them roll around in the landfill first).

    I took my kids to the beach last Friday and had a similar experience. This family took like an hour to get all the kids ready to go into the water, then wouldn't let them play in the sand cause they might get dirty (even though they brought 7 metric tons of plastic sand play crap) and you know, it is bad to get "dirty" in sand if you are swimming. Then the kids couldn't play with the other kids, couldn't go out beyond their knees, couldn't jump off the dock, couldn't laugh, couldn't breath, etc. They were miserable. In the meantime, my kids played with all their fun toys, got them super dirty, splashed them as they jumped off the dock with all the other kids and laughed and laughed and laughed while they were covered in filth. Then they rinsed off and happily went home. I was deemed by my kids "best mom EVER" and I totally kicked that other mom's ass in my mind.

  6. Yeah, we have sunscreen nazis here, too. It's a form of showing off about what a great, concerned mother you are. Bleech!
    There's a neat little wristband you can get at most drugstores that changes color when sunscreen needs to be reapplied. Kids like it and you don't have to worry about whether you put on enough.
    I grew up in a frugal home where one small bottle of sun tan lotion was supposed to last an entire summer. We didn't have sunscreen back then. The idea was to get as dark as possible without getting sun poisoning.
    I survived as did most of my peers so I suspect this whole sunscreen panic is a triumph of consumer marketing.

  7. Hi Anne- feel free to jump right in! Tell us about yourself!
    Cupcake Mama- we are in northern Wisconsin which is far far away from the deserts of Arizona and is a lower elevation. Our sun is much more mild. Whenever we see it, which is about 3 months a year.

  8. I do hate sunscreen and I don't think it is good for you. I buy health food stuff and mainly put it on Beatrix b/c she has such white skin. Of course I do really coat her with it.
    I am the mom who lets her kids play with saws and machetes. Maybe I shouldn't admit that, but little boys really like to hack down weeds and small trees and I think it is good excercise.

  9. My kids daycare makes us send sunscreen to put on them when they go outside to play on the playground during the summer.

    For 20 minutes.

    2x a day.

    You have classes of roughly 16 kids and you're going to spend all of that time lathering them up to spend 20 minutes in the sun?

    Then repeat later that afternoon?

    If we are going out to play for less than an hour, I rarely sunscreen any of us. Cloudy trips to the zoo, don't really sunscreen.

    I probably should, but, no.

    We should start a club :)

  10. A- People are supposed to get 20 minutes every day of unfiltered and unscreened sun for the vitamin D! At least for one of those times they should leave the kids go!

  11. I somehow missed this post. Again, you had me laughing. All that nagging and 15 sunscreen lathering would have affected would have annoyed me, and I would have been thinking...those poor kids, don't have a chance to know how to have fun.


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