Sunscreen…it’s just common sense

By Lisa Sugarman

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?o-SUNBURN-facebook

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.sun

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.rsz_shutterstock_399970786-566x401

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 She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on and at select Whole Foods Market stores.



High school reunions: Can we ever go back?

By Lisa Sugarman

You walk into a crowded room. It’s filled with people—people you know and feel comfortable with, yet you don’t really know the majority of them well at all. Yet you do. But you really don’t. It’s bizarre. Everyone’s excited to see you, so there are hugs and kisses all around. And while there’s a vibe of familiarity swirling around, you really don’t know most of them. But you do. But you don’t. Most of them are more or less strangers at this point. To be honest, you’re a little uncertain about why you’re even there at all. But you are.

And that, my friend, is the best way I can describe my 30th high school reunion._0014_class-reunion

No offense to anyone from the Class of ‘86, because they’re all lovely people—the ones I really know anyway. Can’t speak to everyone, of course, because there are some I never really knew to begin with. But the simple fact is that reunions are awkward. They just are. They can feel stiff and judgy and uncomfortable, regardless of who you were back then.

Think about it, you’re only there for a max of maybe two or three hours, with the goal of circulating around and connecting with like a hundred different people. Pipe dream. Can’t be done. Because once you get cozy with a couple of people, you tend to stay there. Plus, all the old cliques splinter off just like they did when we were seventeen, and totally separate from everyone else. That’s just how it works.

Now of course it’s fun to catch up with the old crew and reminisce and replay all the stupid, funny, maybe slightly inappropriate things we did together. Those moments are priceless. But the reality is that most of us are in very different places now, as adults, than we were in high school. Or at least we should be.

So why go? Well, I asked myself that exact question right up until the time Dave and I walked in the door. Because, honestly, the people I care the most about are the people I still see or talk to on a regular basis. Ok, sure, there are the handful of friends I still keep in touch with because we live in the same town or the out-of-staters who I’m still close to; otherwise everyone else has moved on to new lives and new relationships. Which is what’s supposed to happen.

A big part of my motivation to go was curiosity-based. Obviously. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see if the geek got the girl? Or what thirty years looks like on your high school crush? It’s definitely a where-are-they-now mentality, for sure—a night of rubbernecking in the past.76parkdale197f

And of course, on the surface, everyone seems like they’ve turned into decent, more or less respectable grownups. But that’s on the surface. Cause the reality is, we don’t really know each other on an intimate level anymore so it’s easy to fake it for a night and make people believe what you want them to believe. Rental car and a new outfit and BAM, new life. So even though people seem normal on the outside, there’s no good way of telling if they really are.

Which leaves a bunch of regular conversation with all the people you’re still close to and a ton of small talk with everyone else. Conversations that more or less involve superficial talk about kids and wives and husbands and jobs and houses. Because those really are the big-ticket highlights, right? No time to dig deeper.

But that’s the true essence of a reunion, I guess. Most people go to check everyone out. We go see who got fat or bald or married or divorced. Because we’re all curious, especially about people we grew up with.

See, friends from our youth are a funny thing. They’re people who, for all intents and purposes, got thrown together with us when we were little—in places like kindergarten or Little League or Girl Scouts—and then were attached to us for the next twelve years. Whether we were compatible or not.

These were the people we sat next to in homeroom for twelve years or had gym class with or whose locker was directly above ours. Some of them became legitimate friends because we made real connections with each other. Others we had ties with because we played soccer together or cheered with or did drama club together. Either way we had a bond.chuckatuck-sports-league-coaches-charles-rose-and-aleck-winslow-c-1978-img491

Look, thirty years apart definitely didn’t bring me any closer to the people I wasn’t close to in high school. But it did give me a good dose of perspective. It was confirmation to me that I had finally settled into the best version of myself so far, and that I really didn’t care whether I fit in or not, whether I was popular or not, or whether I was successful or not in the eyes of everyone else. It was a refreshing moment, actually. Definitely worth the price of admission.

So the upshot is this… Ultimately, they say we can never go back. And they’re right. Because we can’t. But it was fun to take a quick peek back to remember where and how we all started out. Plus, it’s entertaining to see if where we started out matches up at all to where we ended up. Cause that one can be a crapshoot.

Lisa Sugarman lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on and at select Whole Foods Market stores.



It finally happened… I succumbed to peer pressure and I went under the knife and slashed the hell out of myself to get a more youthful, edgy look. Well, my website anyway.

Thanks to the incredible creativity, talent, and vision of my girl Lisa McKenna at Curious Marie, I’m proud to introduce my new, vastly improved and beautified, and much slicker website…

Website hero image with name logo

Click the photo above of my new masthead to visit the new site.

And while you’re there, poke around awhile cause everything’s different. And don’t forget to go to my Contact page and let me know what you think.

My interview with Create Balance is LIVE!

Want to know how to create a more balanced life? Don’t we and work balance

Well, the folks at Create Balance think I’m doing an ok job of it so far, so they interviewed me to learn how I maintain balance as a mom and a wife and writer.

Read the full interview with me and Create Balance founder and life-balance consultant Marie Levey-Pabst.