Your children grow up saying that America is a continent and not a country.
When a bell ringing breaks the usual sounds of the streets, you grab your wallet to ready yourself as your children are bound to appear soon asking for money to buy a popsicle from the paletero who’s pushing his cart down the road. Same thing when you’re casually strolling around and you spot a raspa’o (shaved ice) cart in the distance.
You’re used to going inside an Arrocha drugstore looking for medicines or something for your home and coming out with a new toy for the little one.
You keep thinking that you should take them to see the Panama Canal at some point, but then again, it’s not like the canal is going to walk away anytime soon…
If you didn’t know how to prepare arroz con leche (a type of rice pudding), you had to learn it once your firstborn got its first tooth, or perhaps you cheated by asking someone to prepare it so you could offer it to friends and family paying you a visit.
Their school is packed with children with a broad spectrum of nationalities, ethnicities and beliefs, so it seems pretty normal to you that their groups of friends are multicultural.
Weekend outings are usually at a shopping mall, because normally it’s either too warm outside or there’s a downpour of biblical proportions.
Even if you don’t normally walk out in the streets with your children, you have a baby stroller, which you use during your shopping mall excursions.
If the weather is fine on a weekend, you’ll wait until the sun goes down and the air is a bit cooler to take them to the Cinta Costera or the Amador Causeway for a stroll. Sometimes you need to get out of the shopping malls!
You can’t forget to buy cheap toys and gifts to put into the baskets given out as presents to all of the kids showing up at your children’s birthday parties. Similarly, you can’t miss handing out small plastic bags for them to pack the candies that will be picked up once the piñata is broken.
Since most schools in Panama require the use of uniforms, at the start of each year you have to check how your kids’ uniforms fit them and their overall conditions in order to determine if you have to buy new ones. If your children attend a private school, it’s likely that you know very well the prices of Fermín Chan, the exclusive manufacturers for many of these schools.
Your children grow up being used to the beach and it’s incredibly hard for them to move to a city with no easy access to the coast. It’s quite normal, considering that in Panama you can choose between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean any day during the whole year.
Their favorite breakfast includes fried food.
You open up a Christmas Savings Account for your children to teach them the habit of saving money with the added benefit of allowing them to buy whatever present they desire the most at the end of the year.
If your child is cute or amusing, you’ve gotten used to people telling you that you have to be careful of the “evil eye” and that you should put a red band on his or her wrist for protection. If he or she suddenly falls ill, you know you’ll get the advice to go to a santero for healing.
You keep light coats at home to keep them warm during the torrential rain days, when temperatures drop to the incredibly low 25 Celsius.
It doesn’t seem weird to you that your kids understand and/or speak English, given that they’ve been watching subtitled movies and TV shows since they were very little. The fact that there are plenty of magazines sold in English probably helps as well.
You know fully well the abono (layaway) system of large stores, wherein you pay a small part of its cost to reserve it and keep on paying it, little by little. It’s especially useful for Christmas presents for the youngsters.
You endured the nightmare of looking for schools for your kids, with knowledge, psychological and other kinds of tests in the way, even for a 2 year old boy looking to enter a kindergarten.
As they grow older, you start getting worried about their plans for Carnival.