Wow! Training in this heat has been a bear. Now that I’m (slightly) older, I’m a little more concerned about my skin. Since I sweat like a maniac, I hate wearing a lot of sunscreen. This leaves me with two options: lots of clothing, or the treadmill. Neither are the best option, but you do what you have to do, right?
I have to say (right up to the moment where I find out I have skin cancer), I am glad I was a child of the 70s-80s when it comes to the sun. As a swimmer, and a wild child, I was outside from sunup to sundown. I do not recall ever wearing sunscreen. This is not a knock on my mother – I never saw any child getting slathered from head to toe by a worried mommy. Our only concession to the sun was wearing our older brothers’ oversized cotton t-shirts if: a) we were practicing our way to Olympic glory by hurling ourselves off the high dive repeatedly in an attempt to perfect our one-and-a-halfs (google tells me it is “halfs” rather than “halves” when it is referring to the name of the dive), or b) we had a bad sunburn from having spent 8 hours at the pool the day before (a sunburn was NEVER an excuse to make your siblings miss going to the pool just because you forgot to put on a t-shirt at hour four).
Now, I must admit, many of my peers from my generation have made dermatologists/plastic surgeons/aestheticians rich with all the peels, resurfacing, mole removal we’ve required as a direct result of not being familiar with the meaning of SPF 35. My less outdoorsy friends definitely look a few years younger than I do. When I say I’m 50, no one says, “No! You look so young!” I definitely have the skin of the “benign neglect” parenting style that was so prevalent.
And I’m okay with that.
Because when I see that they’ve replaced the high dive with a fully enclosed, tubular waterslide (lest the munchkins go slooping over the side), and kids swimming in, what amounts to, full safari gear – long sleeve shirt, long “swim pants” (really?), sunglasses, and a floppy hat – while also slathered in sunscreen, I feel sad. Childhood for these kids is no longer about freedom, exploring one’s limits, or falling flat on your back from an unrealized back flip off a high dive. No one is learning from mistakes because no one is allowed to make mistakes anymore. How can you realize you need to get out of the sun if you’ve never felt what it’s like to have a sunburn? How can you decide you are not destined for Olympic glory if you don’t get a chance to discover you really don’t enjoy heights, much less hurling yourself from them while trying to look as graceful as a ballerina from the Bolshoi?
So, I will take the extra wrinkles and sunspots. Because that means I know when I need to run on the treadmill, or when I can just run wild.