There are wonderful things I could say about having a daughter with a fair complexion. The fact that her skin comes in two shades -- casper and lobster -- is not one of them. Which isn't a problem at home where I slather the sunscreen on before she steps outside. The problem, oh fellow parents, is when she goes to school.
And if you happened to catch a glimpse of the photos one Washington State mom snapped of her sunburned elementary schoolers the other day, you'll be scared for your kids too. Jesse Michener's daughters baked to a crisp during their school field day. Why?
Because no one bothered putting sunblock on her daughters before they were sent outside. In fact, the teachers aren't allowed to put any sort of sunscreen on the kids at their Tacoma school! The rules state that the only sunscreen that can be put on must be done by the kids themselves, and then only if they have a doctor's note on file. And now that I've done some asking around, I'm finding out this is how it works in a LOT of school districts!
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Come on! In 2012, knowing the immense damage that the sun can do to kids in just a few hours, there has to be a better way people!
For starters, let's just strike "putting it on themselves" off the list right here and now.
I'm sure I don't have to tell you that most kids do not actually enjoy having sunscreen put on them. At least, my 7-year-old doesn't. Nor does her 8-year-old buddy. And although both are smart, capable kids, neither one is able to put the stuff on themselves ... there are too many places they can't reach, they're still not really aware of what has to be covered, etc.
And let's talk about the "doctor's note," shall we?
I didn't know my daughter was going to have her "fun day" until a few days before it actually happened. That's when I learned that A) Field Day has gotten much, much cooler since we were kids (Did y'all have bouncy houses? Me neither!), and B) at some point during the day, my fair-haired princess was going to be outside in the bright sunshine. When, exactly, was I going to make an appointment with my pediatrician? OK, so maybe I could have gotten a note at the beginning of the year, but I bet you it would be tied to an exact bottle/brand of sunscreen. And as luck would have it, we changed brands again this spring after the latest warning about sketchy chemicals.
I think Michener's photos really scare me because I actually fretted about this on the morning of my kid's fun day. Here I was at 7:30 in the morning wondering if I should bother because if she didn't go out until noon, the stuff wasn't going to work anyway.
That's the problem -- we, the parents, can't do this for our kids! We aren't there, and whatever we do in the morning is pretty useless!
I know teachers have a lot on their plate, and gooping up our kids is going to take a lot of time, and won't exactly be fun. But kids should not be coming home from school looking like lobsters because they don't have sun protection.
What do you think would fix this problem? Have you had a sunburned kid come home from school yet?
Image by Jeanne Sager