Have you started rechecking the date for the first day of school on an everyday basis yet? It doesn’t make you a bad parent. Quite the contrary; it shows you’re still clinging to your sanity.
While we may spend much of the rest of the year romanticizing these long, lazy summer days, sooner or later, they can become pretty trying for a parent. The kids lose their impetus to do much of anything, and then their sole occupation for the day seems to become playing a game of how can quickly can we get under Mom’s/Dad’s skin?
A common tactic is a relentless barrage of questions. With a little separation, you’ll laugh yourself to tears with their stream-of-consciousness thoughts. But in the moment, they just may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. And, no, you have no idea where that expression came from, but you’re pretty sure no camels were harmed during its creation.
If you can muster a bit of poise—which is asking a lot, I realize—it is possible to regain the upper hand (if only temporarily) and have a productive conversation. Redirect their curiosity back toward them by asking and answering some questions about their own bodies. To get you started, here are a few that I’m often asked, by kids and adults alike.
Where do freckles come from?
If you have light-colored skin, it’s very possible you’ll have freckles, especially during the summer, when you’re playing a lot outside. There’s something in your skin called melanin, which gives it its color and tries to protect it from the sun. When your body senses your skin is being harmed by the sun, it cranks up the production of melanin. Sometimes it results in an all-over color, like a sunburn or tan, and other times, it occurs in patches of freckles.
What’s the difference between a freckle and a mole?
Freckles turn up when your skin makes extra melanin. They’re usually brown and flat. A mole is an area of your skin where the color has clumped together. You can be born with one, but you can also get them as you grow up. Some moles are the same size as a freckle and others are bigger. Some are flat, like a mole, and others are raised, like a little bump. Moles also come in all sorts of different colors. Most are a shade of brown, but they can also be pink, red, or even blue.
What is skin, exactly?
Your skin is actually made up of three layers. The top one is called the epidermis. It protects your body. The middle one is called the dermis, and it helps you feel things. The bottom one is made up of fat and connective tissue. It connects the dermis to your muscles and bones.
Why do we have different hair colors?
Remember melanin? It’s not only responsible for our skin color; it’s also what makes our hair the color that it is. Those with dark-colored hair make more melanin than those with light-colored hair. How much melanin you make depends on your genes, which you get from your parents. When you get much older, you’ll make a lot less melanin, which is why your grandma and grandpa have white hair.
Uh, how do you get gum out of hair? (Asking for a friend.)
First, don’t hide it from your mom or dad. It’s only going to make it worse. In fact, you’re going to need their help to get it out of your sister’s hair. Find a jar of creamy peanut butter—yep, creamy peanut butter—and scoop a bit out with your hand. Now cover the gum completely. The oils in the peanut butter are going to help the gum crumble. It could take a few minutes. Once it happens, use your fingers to gently pull the gum out. Then tell your sister it won’t happen again.