Sunday, April 14, 2013

The great sunscreen debate

I have an impressive friend. She fell in love with evidence-based health care, arranged her college career and now motherhood around learning to read studies and statistics, and she delights in figuring out what exactly the best and most recent research says on, say, using toothpaste for a child under two. Then she does it.

I bring this up because with the warm spring weather comes (a drumroll, please) sunscreen season! Sadly, I do not have the educational background or mental rigor left to actually inspect the studies on sunscreen use. I just have a naturally suspicious nature and the remnants of philosophical/theological education. This leads me to doubt whether I should slather my child with SPF 100 before going out to get the mail.

Quite apart from whether it's the best use of our time and money, I just wonder whether it's good to insist that every member of a population ritually put on commercially-produced chemicals daily. I saw a headline of a study saying that skin cancer rates have actually gone up since sunscreen use started. Because of the sunscreen? Because people thought it was okay to stay out way longer if they had sunscreen on? Because those people drank too many cokes and it made them more sensitive? Or was the headline completely bogus? I don't know.

This is the whole question of wisdom. How do I parent properly in a world of imperfect information and a whole lot of limits? My dad always said, "The only thing you can't go overboard on is Jesus Christ." He was specifically talking about theology, but I think the principle holds across pretty much everything. I think C. S. Lewis was getting at the same thing when he said some things are a duty to maybe die for, but not to live for - like serving in a war or practicing lifesaving. You may die for that duty, but it shouldn't consume your every waking thought and affection. And Aristotle, of course, was all about virtue being finding the golden middle path between falling off into error on either side.

I could refuse to sunscreen Meg, ever, and cover her with trendy coconut oil (all those health benefits!) so she could get really tan and smell like summer all the time. Or I could sunscreen her every morning just in case we poke our noses out of doors.

The best I've come to, and you might disagree, is that we put on sunscreen when we're going to be outside for a significant length of time. I figure, when experts discover that excessive sunscreen use causes [whatever], we won't have used it excessively. And in the meantime, we won't get many sunburns. Because nobody likes crunchy red skin.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Friend bowling and zapping Peeps

It was ridiculously hot out today, so we went over to a friend's house and played on their slip 'n' slide. Meg took to it like a duck to water, running along the length through the sprinklers and giggling and falling over and getting soaked. She even invented a new game: when her friend ran along it, she tossed a ball at him. It uncannily hit him just wrong and knocked him down. She invented friend bowling!

In other news, this video inspired me to the crazy length of actually going out and buying Peeps and a chocolate bunny on 70% clearance, just so we could make Bye Bye Bunny s'mores. Peeps aren't precisely a food item, but they do grow massively in the microwave, which is hilarious. So we made s'mores last night. Meg was excited and called them "snores" until I pointed out to Jonathan how cute that was, at which point she frowned and clarified that they were really s'mores. S'more or snore, I was queasy so I couldn't try mine, and actually I'm not convinced any of us ate them judging by the number of Peep-infested plates I washed: but we all appreciated Peeps grown monstrous. It's the simple things in life.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Spring clothes

Spring has finally, finally, arrived here. I opened a window yesterday and (surprise!) found a very nice sunbeam. Being part cat, I immediately stretched out it, and spent most of Meg's naptime reading a magazine. It was a really good sunbeam.

I spent the rest of her naptime (on through dinnertime and past her bedtime) doing the Great Seasonal Clothes Swap, which involved getting out pretty much every item of clothing I own and either putting it into or out of a storage bin, mostly trying them on along the way. It was more exciting this year since I got out the maternity clothes. Yes, it's true! We are expecting a new arrival at the end of September. And, between junior and the pleasant weather, it was high time to get spring things out.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

I hear it's just a stage

I'm actually not sure whether staying home and doing housework all day makes the house any cleaner, net, than going out and about. If we're out, at least the home mess stays stable. If we're in, all that Meggie energy gets channeled into her toys so that whichever room I clean, there's another one getting methodically turned into a disaster. We seem to generate more trash and laundry at home, too (especially during potty training), and I know I generate more dishes to wash if I cook.

Staying home and cleaning does change the distribution of the mess, though. Instead of dirty dishes I get tastefully assorted roomsful of dinosaurs, stuffed animals, and easter eggs, and the laundry baskets fill up with clean clothes rather than dirty. I guess that's worth it?

Fish noses

Meg and I got some fish at Long John Silver's. It comes in large fillets, you know, so I cut it up. She and her stegosaurus liked the corner pieces especially well and called them the "fish noses."