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Chronicles of Parenting

Chronicles of Parenting: Sunscreen Screams

Yes, My Child, You Must Wear Sunscreen

Summer’s great. The problem is that every fun activity with your kids – going to the beach, pool, playground, or splashpark – has a gigantic hurdle in front of it: sunscreen. Or maybe it should be spelled sun-scream. For those of you who have struggled to get this product on your child’s delicate epidermis (and even considered skipping it – please don’t!), here are some tips:

  1. Apply lotion while the child is buckled into the car seat or high chair. This way, your little captives can writhe and kick all they want, but they can’t get away. If this sounds somewhat sadistic, just remember that scorched skin is even more unpleasant.
  1. You need to move quickly. If you’re lucky, you’ll have about 4.2 seconds to get this job done. You may want to do some warm-up stretches, or even some meditation beforehand. Get in the zone, because your hand-eye coordination is going to be tested.

Chronicles of Parenting-Sunscreen

  1. As fast as you’re trying to get this over with for all parties concerned, you must be thorough. You yourself may have learned this lesson the hard way over the years, like that time you absentmindedly forgot to put sunscreen on your chest while wearing a V-neck T-shirt, and the resulting triangle-shaped burn made it look like you lost a fight with an iron. (Or maybe that was just me?) This is an argument for not bothering to fully rub the lotion in…keep it white and blotchy, so that you can see where you’ve already applied. Stay focused or Baby’s First Sunburn will be your fault. (You can try to blame the sun, but he never takes responsibility in these situations. Beautiful sunflowers? Yes, he takes credit. Sunburns? No.)
  1. If your child is extra resistant, you may have to get creative or flat-out lie. You may have to contend that the lotion contains special powers to change kids into superheroes or fairies. How to deal with the disappointment when this bogus claim doesn’t actually bear out? Sorry, I don’t know the answer to that. But at least your kid’s skin is still pretty much its original shade?
  1. If the situation gets really dire, you, as a parent, might have to mentally escape to a whole new place. Transport yourself to anywhere but a beach. You might, for example, pretend you’re making fried chicken. The lotion is the egg wash, the sand is bread crumbs…and you have to make sure those lil’ chicken legs don’t get burned to a crisp.
  1. Despite your attempts to make this process quick and painless, just accept that you might miss whole events due to sun-scream drama. Don’t forget to text your friends something along the lines of: SORRY WE NEVER MADE IT 2 POOL. TOOK US 14 HRS TO APPLY SUNCSREEN. TRY AGAIN TMRW?

If you do actually get the sunscreen on your children and you do actually make it outside to have some fun…Congratulations! Remember, of course: in 90 minutes you’ll need to do it all over again.

Jocelyn Jane Cox. Photo Credit: ©2015 Dave ZornowFreelance writer and author Jocelyn Jane Cox reports on the Great State of Parenthood with advice you never knew you needed and the chuckles you know you really need every other week in the Chronicles of Parenting. Her 2012 humor book on life in the New York suburbs, The Homeowner’s Guide to Greatness: How to handle natural disasters, design dilemmas and various infestations, is available on Follow her on Twitter at @JocelynJaneCox.

The Chronicles of Parenting is sponsored by The Palisades Center, your one-stop-shop for fun. Come to the Palisades Center for Munchkin Mondays, childrens’ concerts throughout the summer in the East Court on Level 1 near H&M and Uniqlo. See the complete schedule of events at


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