Waiting to go out. Relaxing by the pool. Standing on the beach. Playing in the park.
It can strike anywhere.
It’s a bit like ‘Supermarket Rage’ or ‘Restaurant Rage’, it strikes fear into the hearts of parents in hot climates.
“Swim gear?” – “check”
“Towel?” – “check”
“Hat?” – “check”
“Beach gear?” – “check”
“Sunscreen on?” – “………………”
“Sunscreen on?” – “………………..”
“You know we are not going out until you both put sunscreen on.”
“What?….oh come on. I don’t need it today. It’s not that hot. I put some on last week.”
“We are not leaving the house until I have put sunscreen on both of you”. I sit down on the couch and wait
“FINE! I will do it” says Max
“No.” I say “I will do it. I want to make sure it’s on properly.”
“ OK!! FINE!!!”
Slowly he edges towards me. Pouting.
“You know the one I use Dad?. The other one makes me itchy.”
“Of course Max” I lie, as I slide the bottle under the table with my foot. I’ve got no idea what he is referring to.
Then I tell him ……“You do your legs and arms. I will do you face and neck.”
I squeeze a reasonable amount of sun protection on his hand and begin, what to an outsider, would appear to be an interrogation at Guantanamo Bay.
“Come closer. No. Closer.”
Like a witch from a Brothers Grimm novel my white fingers slowly reach out to his face as he inches towards me. Factor 50 evenly spread over my primed palms, ready for application.
This should be an arcade game. I can’t for the love of trying, get my hand to meet his face. The bobbing and weaving would put a Highland Dancer to shame. His face moves away from my hand like 2 magnets of opposing forces.
“Stand still would you!”
Slowly he stops bobbing. Now just the occasional head twitch. My hands move to his face.
As soon as I am within striking distance I pounce. Like an angry cobra. Hands clasping onto his face. Rubbing and smearing as much as I can before I lose my grip.
It lasts less than a second but I got him good. He looks like an albino and half his collar is white.
We look at each other. He starts to wipe it away from his face with the back of his sleeve.
“NO! Stop that.” I shout “I am not finished. Wait till it dries. I missed a spot. Come here while I rub it in.”
I move in for a 2nd crack.
I rub the cream across his face, cheeks and ears. I get the nose, lips and forehead before wiping the excess off on his head and simultaneously giving him a sun cream Mohawk.
“My mou…es, my MOU……YES” he cries, shaking his head about like a white Stevie Wonder.
“your mouyes?” I repeat
“My mouth…..eyes….it’s in my mouth and eyes” he mumbles.
But it’s too late I am off to the next child. One down one to go.
It could have gone so much easier.
Legs and arms are generally ok. It’s the face. The face that gets them every time.
Applying cream by the pool or during a swim is harder and stupider-er. Your child becomes a wet bar of soap as they slip and slide through your fingers. The sun cream doing nothing but diluting itself on the wet skin.
Applying it on the beach is even stupider-er-er. You may as well rub your child with sandpaper.
“ah DA-AD…..that hurts….it scratches…..”
“well, it needs to go on…”
The inevitable tantrum and aggravation I get from flying sand as they turn it into world war 3 leaves me exasperated and ready to leave.
So I get my revenge
I cream them up and roll them in the sand.
I call it ‘The Schnitzel’.
It’s a mini victory in my head.
Yet despite it all, I bloody love summer.