It was a beautiful week here in Maryland. Breezy, sunny, highs between 75-80 degrees.
As I hauled my kids out of the bath tonight, it was easy to see on their skin just how we'd spent our week: I spotted a tan line from a flip flop, a strap from a tank top, and noted how much browner Lars' calves were than his thighs.
What we have here, folks, is evidence of shabby parenting. Akin to failing to brush teeth twice a day, failing to get vaccines on time, or forgetting to buckle the top buckle on the carseat's 5-point harness.
As an Officially Shabby Parent, I am unrepentant. (About the suntans, I mean. Not the other stuff. That I feel terrible about. And I only forgot the buckle once.) But like I said - UNREPENTANT.
I believe in a child's unalienable right to climb trees first thing in the morning, even before breakfast. I believe in a child's unalienable right to ride their bike around and around and around in the cul-de-sac until they are dizzy. I believe in a child's unalienable right to run from the slides to the swings to the monkey bars and back again. I believe in a child's unalienable right to spend their days outside.
I will do my part. I will purchase sunscreen with an SPF 70, knowing this is a far cry from the Sea 'N Ski SPF 4 that I used to resist as a kid. I will slather noses and ears and shoulders as best as I am able. I will buy hats, keep track of said hats, and jam the hats on heads over and over and over. I will show the kids the wrinkles gathering above my knees, and tell them my skin is protesting the career of a teenage lifeguard.
When they are a little older, I will tell them about Jill and Betsy. These are two friends of mine, two bloggers: two women whose lives are changed forever by failing to understand the damage the years of burning/peeling/burning again can inflict. You can read Jill's (aka Scary Mommy's) post here, and Betsy's post here. They make for very sober reading.
And in the morning, I will send my kids out to play. I will remember the sunscreen at the last moment - I may even have to call them back indoors to get slathered up - but they will take their natural-born place amongst the branches of the cherry tree, in the middle of the sandbox, at the top of the slide.
How else are they going to perfect the art of being kids?