There isn’t much I despise more than applying sunscreen or brushing my children’s hair. It is like God’s true test to see if we are worthy or not, and apparently I am not. I have never once been able to get through either of these activities without crying, screaming and being accused of trying to hurt them on purpose. There is so much grief involved in these two things, that I find myself excusing us from doing things just so I don’t have to be bothered with these painful chores.
It is summer and I know my kids need to be protected from these harmful UV rays. Our dermatologist echoes this with his scare-the-shit-out-of-you tactic to earn his semi-annual visits and $40 co-pays. Let me throw in the fact that I have been watching ‘The Big C’ on Showtime and I am constantly diagnosing my family and self with some sort of potential melanoma. For many years I have used that spray on sun screen that is one of the most brilliant things ever created, however this year the article in the dermatologist’s office warned of any sunscreen containing oxybenzone or retinyl palmitate, as they have a tendency to cause more harm than good. Of course I take that one article as gospel and on my next trip to the store I find one sunscreen that doesn’t contain these two chemicals and guess what, it’s a lotion.
Applying lotion sunscreen to two kids is similar to wrestling a female alligator trying to protect her young. I am really not sure how I get out alive each time, but there is a black out period I experience and I can’t be sure what happens or be held responsible for my actions. I begin the process by warming the lotion in my hands before I start to rub it in, before I even touch them their motion detectors go off and they start pulling away from me. This only causes me to grab them and pull them back toward me resulting in, “You are hurting me” or “I think you dislocated my arm”. Yes, I am sure I did, you want to go to the pool or not? Apparently massage therapists have it all wrong, because there is nothing relaxing about having someone rub lotion into our skin, in this case for the rub-er and the rub-ee (are those even words?).
I always wind up getting sun screen in the kid’s eyes no matter what tactic I try, so I am not even careful anymore. “Look, it’s getting in your eyes either way, so let’s just speed this up and go with the squirt and slap around method!” By the time we finish this entire process, stop crying and making accusations about inflicting bodily harm, two hours have gone by and we can now go to the pool for about 25 minutes before our next obligation.
Hair brushing is probably still more painful; for me, not them. I have bought every kind of brush, comb and spray and the results are the same. My six year old starts crying before I even finish the sentence, “You need to comb your hair”. For some reason, even after my kids comb their hair it looks like they just rolled out of a static filled blanket. I am so envious when I see kids with perfectly kempt hair, are they aliens? Do their moms comb it using special glue that keeps it in place? Whatever the secret it, I am willing to pay.
I have started to bow out of things, just to keep from having to comb their hair and the frustration that follows. Even as I type this I know I need to go to Walgreens, but I would need them to comb their hair, so maybe I can just wait until my husband comes home and avoid the trauma. I am really thankful that my oldest child has chosen swim as her sport of choice as I don’t even bother with her hair in the morning, why would I comb her hair just to have her jump in the pool and mess it up? I am all about efficiency, spending ten minutes combing out her hair when I know she is going into the water is not a wise decision and would go against all those models I studied in grad school.
So, if you are wondering how I am spending my summer, I think it is quite obvious. I will probably burn as many calories chasing my kids around the house with a tube of Banana Boat or a Goody brush, as I would climbing a mountain in stilettos. It’s still not enough calories to get me into a bikini, but we got two months of sun screening and brushing to go, and I am feeling optimistic!