Being recently compelled to walk around under an umbrella on a sunny day got me thinking.
As I strolled along a shore in southern Sweden, trying to enjoy a beautiful weekend afternoon but at the same time battling to keep direct sunlight as far away as possible, I reflected on how I came to be doing such a thing.
The simple answer is that babies shouldn’t be in sun for the first year of life, our nurse told us. So if it’s clear skies and we’re out and about, we have to do what it takes to keep any and all sunshine off the kid’s skin.
But it was some of the details in carrying out this sun-fighting task that I pondered.
I thought about the lengths I’m going to in order to follow this no-sun rule. Such as taking frantic cover under an umbrella when there’s not a cloud in the sky. Or making sure the patch of shade we’re picnicking in has absolutely no spots of sun seeping through. Or walking backwards for a stretch, using my body as a shield, if I’m heading in the direction of a low sitting sun and I’m without adequate gear (like my trusty umbrella).
I gave serious thought to more enhanced baby clothing solutions that would provide a leg up in our year-long sun battle. Our child on this afternoon, for example, was wearing a long-sleeve shirt, pants, socks, a sun hat and sunglasses as I baby-bjorned her around.
Pretty well covered, I thought. But not completely covered. Her hands would be exposed to a direct hit if she decided to wave them outside of the umbrella’s shadow, I fretted. So I wondered if manufacturers make baby sun protection gloves. If not, why not! And if so, why didn’t our family have these yet?
Or maybe instead of messing around with accessories, why not just go for a head-to-toe suit of sun-deflecting armour, I mulled. Apparently for kids in Australia, there are these full-body UV ray-repelling suits they slip into for a day at the beach. Maybe we should import one of those?
But I also got to thinking how I seem to be the only one walking around with an umbrella. You see lots of parents lugging around their tiny kids, but very few with an actual umbrella out and open on sunny days. I didn’t recall seeing much backward walking from others either.
Why is this? One possible answer, I allowed, is that I am the best parent in the world, going that extra mile to protect my child while other, less-super parents let their children fry.
Another possible, but much less likely, answer is that I had caught some severe first parent-itis symptoms of over-protectiveness.
Yet another possibility is that a little sun doesn’t really do much harm. This may be true, but I quickly concluded such a hypothesis is way too risky for a super parent to test.
Most of all, what I thought about were clouds, and when it would finally get overcast and hazy again.
Such a thought was personally counter-intuitive because I, like most, prefer good weather to bad. I also realized it’s essentially high treason to wish away sunshine in Sweden, a country that dearly appreciates the few rays it gets.
But please, give me a break. I’m walking around in the sun under an umbrella.