As hard as I try not to embody gender-based stereotypes, I am perpetually Team Mom. I can’t help it. If we’re camping, I will follow you around picking up after you and organizing all our gear into neat piles. I want to make sure you’ve gotten enough to eat. Please let me pack you a lunch.
These qualities are generally considered endearing—who doesn’t want a smorgasboard laid out on the picnic table and a cold beer waiting when you finish pitching your tent? But I do have this one habit that drives people bonkers.
Wait. Before we continue. Are you wearing sunscreen?
You should be. You should be wearing sunscreen every time you step outside. I am very concerned for your dermal health.
Anyway. Before we hit the trail (or, in some cases, before we even get out of the car), I’m already insisting everyone put on sunscreen.
“I put some on at home,” my husband (who has a family history of melanoma!) often tells me, which I know is not true because I live with him. He has largely given this one up in favor of sighing resignedly as he takes the Banana Boat.
My dogged persistence is not limited to people I’m married to. I will give pointed looks to friends, family, small children, and my own parents until they apply sunblock. Do you have a dog with white spots? You can bet I’m over there making sure his pink skin doesn’t get burned while you’re reluctantly smearing sunscreen on the back of your neck.
Hang on. Have you reapplied today? You know you need to reapply every few hours, right?
People usually think they’re done with sunscreen once they’ve left me in the dust, but fear not. I will eventually catch up when you stop for lunch, and I will have sunscreen with me.
“You sweat a lot mountain biking,” I will breathlessly announce as you roll your eyes or, if we’re newer friends, listen politely and wonder whether I’m really going to insist. (I am.)
Another favorite trick of my husband’s is to point out that it’s not even really that hot/sunny/in fact it’s drizzling a little. At this point I am incredulous.
Are you aware that 80% of the sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds? Because they can, and every sunburn you get increases your chances of developing melanoma.
I stop short of applying sunscreen to my friends, though should I ever have offspring I anticipate they will spend a great deal of their childhood squirming away from me as I make sure they’ve gotten the tops of their ears. (That’s a terrible burn to get!)
By the time we finish whatever it is we’re doing, I expect everyone to be a little greasy from sunscreen application, but that’s alright. You’ll thank me one day, when you don’t have skin cancer.