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In front, originally uploaded by erase.

The Redster: Five and three quarters
The Cutester: Two and a half

I’m glad it seems to be cooling down. Sunshine is all very well, and I was a big fan of it as a child – especially as I associated the British climate with boarding school – but I have gone right off it now that I am the mother of a redhead. I am now so sensitive to heat and sunshine I feel I may have earned honorary redhead status. It started when I was pregnant with the Redster in that hot summer of 2003, when I couldn’t sleep unless I’d run my nightie under a cold tap just before I put it on, and for a long time I assumed that the pregnancy had effected some sort of permanent hormonal change. I now reckon it was a specifically ginger pregnancy which changed me forever in preparation for rearing a ginger child.

Everyone went on about protecting her skin from the sun – not least babyfather, who’s had the kind of sunstroke that makes you throw up – but despite all my slathering her with cream and insisting on hats, she got slightly reddish skin in the sun twice as a baby. One area, on her arm, developed into her first mole, and the other place on the back of her neck promptly sprouted a cluster of skin tags. I had been warned.
I now spend sunny days willing clouds to appear, or preferably rain to drive her indoors, and get laughed at in the playground because I am still smearing cream on her five minutes after the whistle’s been blown and the other children have gone inside. She spent a week smelling of chocolate liqueur because the school is Not Allowed to apply sun cream (?!?) so I decided to use the 10 hour stuff, but could only find the one for adults, which is mostly alcohol. (Hmm. Is that more carcinogenic than the sun’s rays, I wonder?)

She’s the kind of redhead who doesn’t just burn in the sun but wilts in the heat, and by heat I mean anything over 21c. Her sports day was over for her the moment it started – she told me as they trotted out into the sunshine (it was 26c that day) that she was thirsty and her legs ached, and despite drinking half a bottle of water, after one exhausted effort to throw a beanbag through a hula hoop she gave up and reclined on my lap in the shade. Her team came last.

If it’s true that redheads are dying out, it won’t be because of genes, but climate change. They don’t stand a chance.