Thursday, 24 May 2012

BURN, BABY, BURN

Ball! Ball of fire in sky! *beats chest* Come, Ug, look at ball! Worship ball! Ball is good!

This is my usual response when I see the sun in Scotland, an event that takes place once every 3,000 years when the moon is in the seventh house and the mongoose of Aragon doth rise from the swamps of Tylenolle. (Sorry, my husband is reading Game of Thrones and some of it has leaked out of the sides).

Sunny days are also a chance for me to be a total PARANOID LUNATIC when it comes to my child's skin. Never mind that I have a peeling, sun scorched neck that would make Dennis Potter reach for the celestial aqueous cream. Like the worst kind of hippy, overprotective parent, I dread my kid getting sunburn. However unrealistic it is, I want his lovely smooth skin to stay unblemished by sun damage forever. But it's also because I fear terrible consequences - never mind that sunburn can happen in the blink of an eye, somewhere in between hoiking your sandy knickers out of your crack and searching for your sanity in the cool bag. These days, if you let your child burn, you're a terrible parent.

I remember getting sunburn when I was about 4- screeching as my mum tried to cover my shoulders in Germolene. Of course, back then, nobody knew much about the risks, and in summer everyone had skin like a flayed chorizo. The only sun protection a family needed was a slimy brown bottle of Coppertone factor 1, carelessly sealed with a piece of cling film. Sun tan lotion was considered the reserve of international jetsetters, women in Campari adverts and some mysterious bloke called Piz Buin. Not for the likes of us, with our terry towelling and windbreakers, gurning on the beach in Scarborough. You just had a fag and got on with it.

But these days, you must slather your deeply annoyed, wriggling, complaining kid from head to toe in bright blue 'fun' sun block every 10 minutes. If you don't follow this tedious process, you may as well give them a packet of B&H and a plutonium rod and tell them get down to Tan Canaria for a quick sizzle on the hi-definition Burn-o-tron 3000. Why not leave them in the road? Give them a crack pipe? Enter them into a beauty pageant and make them sing 'Happy Birthday, Mr President' in a sexy voice?  Such is our fear of the sun's dangers, our kids are sent out wearing weird caps with flaps on the back, looking like ghostly white pharaohs, unable to move and sweating cobs in full body lycra.

The problem is, protecting children from the sun involves a combination of pain, anxiety and extreme helplessness. Monitoring the possibility of sunburn is a whole lot of hand wringing and squinting with the voice of Lynn Faulds-Wood in your head reeling off cancer statistics and saying 'look at that, it's a death trap.' Putting suncream on them is even worse. I would rather climb in a vat of tripe and have a saucy wrestle with Eric Pickles than put factor 50 on a screaming 2 year old, or have a 10 minute 'conversation' about how they need to wear a hat no-it's-not-too-hot-it'll keep-you-cool-just-put-on-the-FUCKING HAT.

Something has to be done about this dermatological stress. Someone needs to invent a sheep dip style sun-tan lotion dunking system you can take to the beach - in, out, done. One application covers all. No more greasy struggling and indignant tears, no more guilt ridden cold baths. That way Mummy can get on with something more important than worrying about her parenting. Like reading middle aged lady porn and slurping her way through a litre bottle of Asda rose while the kids disappear into the sea.

8 comments:

  1. Made me laugh! It gets a bit easier as they get older - though I used to fantasise about holding my daughter by the heel and dipping her into a vat of sunblock like Achilles.

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  2. I'm just keeping my baby indoors until it's nice and cloudy again. I'm half Irish + my husband is Welsh = a child with near-transparent skin. Just as well it's only sunny a couple of days a year here.

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  3. Aaargh...don't remind me....I still get the vapours with guilt over my son (now 26) getting sunburned on a foreign holiday when he was 11 and spent the day in/out/in/out/in/out of the pool and I ....oh the shame..whisper it....got fed up with slathering the stuff on and by the eleventyseventh time just gave up....shoot me now. Very funny post by the way.

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  4. Oh I so know what you mean!
    My own childhood was completely devoid of sun protection, my sister used to slather on some sort of coconut-smelling vegetable oil and tanned well, but I am fair and freckly and suffered various sunburn episodes. In the summer of 1976, our class teacher (who had skin the colour of dark mahogany, she is probably dead from skin cancer by now) made us have our lessons outside on the playing field, in full sun, with not a sun hat or any sunscreen in sight. I remember feeling ill but not daring to say anything. Those were the days, eh?!
    The sun screen ritual DOES get easier as the kids get older, honest! xxxx

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  5. Oh your blog was so funny, and yet it had a serious side. It reminded me of my younger days living in Spain, at the age of 4/5 my parents being sun worshipers never ever applied sun screen or sun total block to my skin, to be honest I am surprised I have not suffered from any type of melanoma thank the Lord. This post was truly enlightening and a fun read.

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  6. This has cheered me up no end!!!!

    Last year my son got burned when he was under the care of Other Adults and I was furious. He had a blister on his scarlet little shoulder the size of Belgium and when it burst *dry-retches* I thought I'd need to take him to the hospital. Man I was FURIOUS.

    I love the idea of a sheep dip sun lotion. I could do with that myself. I literally made a snot bubble with laughter at the 'flayed chorizo' comment. So very true.

    I am in the far West (Coast of Scotland) we have the fiery orb today. I am sitting with a cardigan on indoors.

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  7. First time poster here at your blog --- please keep it up! I'm enjoying the reads.

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