I Used To Hate Summertime Until I Had Children
Decades later, the memory is still fresh. The year is 1983 and we are at the beach on a beautiful summer’s day. All of the other kids are delightfully running towards the ocean. Except for me. I had to wait a few more minutes. Because my mom wasn’t done. She had just finished slathering tons of sunscreen on the first half of my body, now it was time for the other half. I glared at the other kids with envy. Why was I the only one who had to withstand this torture? To add insult to injury, I was wearing the number “20”, which was the highest possible protection at the time. I was a redhead with fair skin and freckles. I really hated this. Mostly, I hated being me.
Years later, as I grew into a teenager, I remained jealous. My fellow young women, the ones with the beautiful “normal skin”, were now tanning. They were covered in baby oil. I still had my sunscreen on. By the19 90’s, the number had increased to “50”. That was my preferred one. If I went out in daylight without it, I was sure to burn. It is not that I didn’t try. I did my share of “sunbathing”. Except my version of sunbathing produced blistered skin and more freckles. I was convinced I could break down the barrier; that once I burned a few times it would eventually turn into a tan. And that I would be just like everybody else. I often told my mom who scoffed at the idea. She told me how I would need to get used to my fair skin as tanning was not something that would ever happen for me. She would then add how special it was to be a redhead and how anyone would kill for my hair color. I tried to listen the first 100 times, but the same speech was getting tired. All I would hear was a bunch of blah blah blahs. I was your typical stubborn kid.
It didn’t seem like this whole summer thing was for me. I did summer camp a few times and hated it. Painfully shy and physically awkward, I was never much of a participator. I didn’t feel as strong and fast as the other kids. Just the thought of having to join an organized sport gave me an instant panic attack. I was always afraid I would ruin the game due to my physical inadequacies. I would have rather just been by myself. For me, summer magnified the fact that I often felt like a failure. And that I didn’t belong. Mostly, I didn’t like that I was different.