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 summerâ€™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 wasnâ€™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 â€œ20â€, 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 â€œnormal skinâ€, were now tanning. They were covered in baby oil. I still had my sunscreen on. By the19 90â€™s, the number had increased to â€œ50â€. That was my preferred one. If I went out in daylight without it, I was sure to burn. It is not that I didnâ€™t try. I did my share of â€œsunbathingâ€. 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 didnâ€™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 didnâ€™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 didnâ€™t belong. Mostly, I didnâ€™t like that I was different.