Summer means sizzle

Written by Amanda Coop

“Mummy,” says Mr 6, laying his hand lightly on my bare shoulder.

“Do you think it’s a good idea to be wearing a singlet? You’re going to get sunburnt.”

Aside from the fact that he’s adorable and thoughtful, it also occurs to me that he’s very sensible. I guess that makes one of us.

Unfortunately, with the arrival of summer days again, it’s almost time for my annual tradition.

Sadly, it’s not a very festive one, although one such fiasco did result in me sharing a distinct resemblance with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer a couple of years ago.

It’s about this time of year I usually acquire a horribly painful and embarrassing sunburn. I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite holiday tradition, but one that seems to have stuck, nonetheless.

When the kids were younger, I was guilty of lathering them up with sunscreen, packing their hats, long sleeves, etcetera, and then running out the door without a thought as to my own sun safety.

Probably not a completely uncommon occurrence for parents of young kids. Now they’re old enough to mostly sort themselves out I’ve started to pick up my game – but it hasn’t helped much.

The fateful Rudolph event took place when I was fully sunscreened up but spending a couple of hours in the aquatic centre pool was never going to end well for me.

I was there with the kids, who thought I was making excuses when I told them I needed to get out because I could feel myself getting burnt.

When I emerged with a nose that glowed brighter than anything Santa Claus has ever had up front of his sleigh, not to mention the tell-tale sunglasses tan, they realised I was serious.

By then all I could do was go home and make pained sounds while continually spraying my swollen face with cooling spray and avoiding the outside world for the next couple of weeks. OK, avoiding the outside world wasn’t all bad but the damage I sustained probably was. I’m not kidding about my face being swollen.

Last year I took Miss 10 to a playdate at a local park. Determined to learn my lesson and be more responsible, I had sleeves, a hat and sunscreen.

I sat under the cover of a barbecue shelter for two hours and came home sunburnt. Definitely not Rudolph level sunburnt, but still very red and painful and causing hubby to ask why I wasn’t wearing sunscreen.

You can imagine how that conversation went over since I was, in fact, wearing sunscreen and was also a little hot, bothered and touchy by that stage.

Miss 10 had sunscreen and a hat and was in the sun for those two hours. She went home fine. Now obviously I’m glad she didn’t go home looking like a beet (or worse, me) but it does make me wonder to what lengths I need to go to avoid the sun’s damaging rays.

Sitting inside in air-conditioned comfort sounds good to me, but the pesky thing about chasing your kids off electronic devices is that they then often want to do something that requires us venturing into the outside world – a place that isn’t kind to those who have descended from vampires (this also explains a lot about my love of daytime naps).

I’ve come up with a solution that shouldn’t be embarrassing at all for the children – I’m simply going to suit up in some beekeeping garb (thanks to a lovely friend for that idea) to protect my highly sensitive skin.

I guess if the kids don’t want to be seen with me looking like a complete weirdo, they might opt instead to just hang out in the air-conditioning … wouldn’t that be a shame?