School has finished for summer and the temperature is steadily climbing to unbearable. The girls are playing in the sandpit and I am sitting nearby examining various canisters. It is a hot sunny day and the bugs are out. I have sunblock and bug spray before me. Last year I was awash with guilt when my daughters’ scalps were reduced to a bloodied mess by some blood sucking vampire gnats. I did have bug spray last year, but I kept forgetting to use it until it was too late – this year I am determined to be better.
I squint horribly, trying to read the black writing on the dark green background of the can of bug spray. I briefly consider using a magnifying glass, but that is too close to admitting I need to wear the bifocals I was prescribed six months ago (and have never worn). I give up trying to read what materials shouldn’t be sprayed and give the girls a good all over squirt. I watch with interest to see if their clothes start to melt, but nothing happens.
I can read the sunblock directions easily, but I am uneasy about the mix of chemicals. I wonder what sort of toxic mess I might unwittingly create if I spray them with sunblock too. Will they grow extra limbs, or even worse, an extra mouth? Perhaps they might melt into a pool of slime. I abandon the sunblock. Today they can burn, tomorrow they can be bitten.