My children are occasionally idiots. Sorry, but they are. And I’m guessing yours are, too, at times.
Now I love both my girls to death and have nothing but immense pride in who they’ve become as people. Because, in my eyes, they’re both just left of perfect. But I’m openly calling them idiots because they often don’t use that squishy melon inside their heads called a brain when it comes to making good common sense decisions…like wearing sunscreen.
Yes, sunscreen. It’s a constant battle in my house and I just can’t, for the life of me, understand why it’s such an issue. I mean, sun burns human skin. Period. And people who go out in the hot sun for any length of time will more than likely burn said skin if they don’t use sunscreen. Correct?
Well, my children, with their ironically fair skin, seem to think that they’re immune to sunburns. And because of that, they often skip out of the house on hot summer days with nothing but a tank top and a ponytail holder on. Do you have sunblock on? I’ll always ask. I don’t burn, they’ll say. To which I say, Yes you will. To which they say, No I won’t. (This usually goes around and around a while until I just give up and say, Well, the aloe is in the closet when you get home.) Because at this stage of the game, there’s only so much I can do as a parent to influence their decisions now that they’re adults.
It just doesn’t make any sense to me. I mean, they’re smart kids with just about everything else. They’ve got good judgement and good common sense, but where this one thing is concerned, they’re both ignoramuses.
It was easy when they were kids and the summertime routine always included a quick trip out to the deck to be hosed down with a can of SPF 50. Easy peasy. But you know kids, once they get older they get smarter than everyone else around them, including and especially their parents.
So, I just give out the daily reminders and make sure there’s a spray bottle of sunblock every ten feet in the house and then I cross my fingers and hope for the best. Because, at the end of the day, there’s only so much that a mom or a dad can do in terms of asserting authority once our kids start adulting. It’s not like I can say, I’m not sending you back to college in the fall if you don’t wear sunscreen. (Even though I’d like to.) There are just some lessons that are best learned the hard way.
Like how their dad learned thirty years ago that it’s a horrible idea to slather on tanning oil when you’re lying out in the hundred-degree heat on the banks of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Bad idea. Awful. Needless to say, it did not go well. In fact, it was an epic fail that resulted in Dave and all his shmuck-ball friends getting second-degree burns and spending time in the kibbutz infirmary. Good life lesson, though. Never went without sunscreen again.
And of course we’ve both shared that story with our girls multiple times over the years, but because it’s only a one-dimensional story to them that happened to someone else, it really wasn’t all that impactful. Clearly, because they still somehow think they were raised on the Italian coast and have olive skin that just tans when exposed to the slightest bit of sunlight.
Now of course we’ve had the skin cancer talk. Which, again, didn’t leave much of an impression, sadly, because it’s hard for them to think in terms of thirty or forty years down the line. Which I get, because I was that way when I was in high school and all I wanted was a deep, dark tropical tan that would make all my whites pop. So instead, I just keep bugging them and shoving bottles of Banana Boat in their bags, hoping that they’ll eventually realize that there’s no excuse for getting sun burned.
Over time, though, I’m sure they’ll figure out that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. (Corny, but appropriate.) In fact, I think Riley’s recent sunburn may have given her a healthy dose of perspective (not to mention pain). Pretty sure she’s been hitting the sunscreen bottle hard ever since.
It’s like I always say, the hardest lessons are usually the ones we learn the best.
I’ve always been a big believer that we all figure out these life lesson-type things sooner or later. And while some of us may take a little longer than others to get there, we all usually make it one way or another.
Lisa Sugarman lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at http://www.lisasugarman.com. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on Amazon.com and at select Whole Foods Market stores.