I watch the moms on the beach slather their kids with sunscreen. Some moms use a gentle, nurturing touch when rubbing the lotion on the kids’ backs, little arms, faces and even tops of the ears. Other moms do it like they’re covering a piece of brisket with a special rub recipe. As thoroughly and efficiently as possible.
If Mom had used sunscreen she’d been one of the brisket moms. I never knew sunscreen existed when I was a kid. Maybe Mom didn’t either. On beach vacations we swam and played all day in the scorching Florida sun until our energy ran out and our baked bodies needed food. My face and shoulders always burned the worst. My face hurt but not like my shoulders. Every movement meant my shirt rubbed against my tender, red skin and this made trying to sleep miserable. My sisters and I lay there, legs wide apart, arms spread away from our bodies because we didn’t want any part of our bodies touching any other part of our bodies.
But the burn wasn’t enough to keep us out of the sun the next day. We wanted to be back in the water so Mom slipped a large t-shirt over our bathing suits. This provided no protection for our faces but at least our shoulders and chest didn’t re-burn.
By the time I was wise enough and old enough to rub my own body down with sunscreen I opted for baby oil instead. This fair skinned, freckled, strawberry-blond haired chick was going to be as tan as the rest of the girls in high school. Only I wasn’t and never would or could be. But I tried. As a young adult I paid to lie in a hot bed of tanning bulbs that turned my skin only slightly golden.
Thankfully at some point, I accepted my fair skin. I appreciate it and and care for it now.
I’m more efficient than I am thorough and I lose track of when to reapply sometimes.
After my beach trip last year, a friend asked me, “I thought you were going to the beach?” After I told him we were there for a week, he said, “Oh, you don’t look like you got much sun.”
I guess I’m more thorough than I think.