This morning the Precario was filled with the usual chaos; screaming, running, a couple of munchkins hitting each other, and few banana peels flying through the air. The kids were a little whacked out after the three day weekend, but it was good to see them, about thirty-five in all. It was a fun day. And for whatever reason, the tiny moths that usually cover the walls and ceiling were fewer in number. So that was nice. But I did notice that some kind of oogy skin rash has found a home on the cheeks and foreheads of some of the kids. A sprinkling of raised red dots resembling flea bites or something. No fevers or itching or anything…just red spots. I’m sure it’s nothing….ok, I’m pretty sure it’s something, something bad… But after they have hung on my back and dug their sticky fingers into my hair and shmooshed their drippy noses on my shoulder, I have to believe that it’s “nothing”. Or at least nothing too horrible and contagious *shudder*.
Normally, I am content to let the little ones crawl all over me. Some of them seem so starved for the positive physical attention we bring that there is rarely a moment that any one of us isn’t flanked closely by a child on the left and right, with one (or two) more in our laps. Today, I kept a tiny bit of distance – but it wasn’t because of the rash. Not that I relish the idea of catching a rash…or head-lice, or ring worm, or any other communicable disease. But, come on, if I was really worried about any of that, the Precario is the last place on Earth that anyone would find me.
No, today I have my own ailment discouraging me from closeness of any kind. A self-imposed moratorium on touching. I still received my fair share of hugs, and always had one of the younger kids in my arms or on my lap, but had to gently pry a few pairs of tight squeezing arms from around my neck and waist. It’s because the same false sense of indestructibility that allows me to keep smiling after one of my little gremlins sneezes – with insane accuracy – directly up my nose, also allows me to play on the beach, very near the equator, in a bikini, for 6 hours. Straight.
I have a wicked sunburn.
For those of you who have never had a sunburn (supposing you’ve been chained in a dungeon your entire life, or maybe grew up in a closet, or for those who’ve never left Seattle), you may experience the sensation of a really nasty sunburn in the following ways:
A) Have a college football player snap you hard with a wet towel, repeatedly. All over you body.
B) Have a mechanic give you an “Indian-Burn” using a vice grip and a piece of sandpaper. All over your body.
C) Cover yourself in pancake syrup and roll around on an ant hill while the ants bite you. All over your body.
D) Play in the surf and sand of a Costa Rican beach hour after hour while the sun beats down on you. All over your body.
Believe me, I speak from experience. Ok, except for the mechanic one. But I believe that would be, at the very least, a close approximation of a super nasty sunburn. And, the syrup thing is just to ensure good coverage, I’ve never done it, but I have been bitten by lots of ants all at once.
Oh, and please spare me the sunblock lecture. I used it. Four times. Once before I left the house, once when we arrived, once at lunch, and once in the afternoon. I am a proponent of sunblock, insisting that my kids wear it, and being sure to slather a thick layer on my husbands back as well. Although, I would not be the least bit surprised to find that I have a cancerous mole the size of Pluto in the middle of my back. This is because by the time I’ve squirted and slapped and smeared my entire family with SPF45, and then hit all of my own reachable parts, all available parties have since launched themselves into the tide, leaving no one to cover the Bermuda Triangle in the middle of my back. Not that it matters, as there is no visible difference between that fried skin and the rest of the fried skin. Sometimes it makes me wonder if maybe I was supposed to be a missionary to Greenland instead – although I have an aversion to cold of any kind really. So no, Costa Rica is the place for me.
Come to think of it, it’s really not that bad of a burn. I’ve had sooooo much worse. But when I was 13 and laying out on the diving board, all shiny from cooking oil, I wasn’t much worried about skin cancer or wrinkles or smelling like day old french fries. In fact, I wasn’t super worried about that stuff when I was baking at the beach on Sunday, either. I was much more engaged in watching my husband and sons jumping around in the waves, digging in the wet sand, and disappearing together around the bend at the end of the beach to go exploring. I waited willingly, squinting into the light, so that I wouldn’t miss seeing them come back to me, black silhouettes against a ball of fire. To have missed out on even one of those moments – snapshots in time that make me fall more in love with my husband and value more the fleeting childhood of my boys – to miss that for fear of a sunburn would have, in my estimation, been a tragedy.
In the same respect, to refuse affection to a child because of a creepy rash would be an intense shame. When we neglect the opportunity to be face to face, and I mean forehead to forehead, nose to nose with a child that needs to be seen, even if that child has a snotty nose, or smells like poo, or is teaming with unmentionable critters, when we turn away from that child for fear of what their hot breath will leave on our skin, we turn away from the very thing that sets us apart from the world. A kind of selfless humanity, a fearless love. I long for this kind of grace, for eyes that see a child before they see a rash and not after…
I will be returning to the Precario on Tuesday as always. Rash or no rash. Well, I guess if I have developed the rash then I would stay home (There is a big difference between fearless and foolish!) but otherwise I will be there, and hopefully, we’ll head back to the beach soon, too. I may have to find one of those grandma-beach-nightie-thingies to cover up with, but spending a sunny day enjoying my family in the perfect Pacific was exactly what we all needed. Jamison called it “having Beach Church”. Which I kinda like. I hope to enjoy it again soon….but not too soon… my skin is currently threatening to turn to leather. Maybe after the peeling stops….