Arizona kiddos had it rough, but those of us raised by the best guardians recognize these signs of being brought up at home — even though our rugged childhood was sometimes a struggle to endure. Here are 13 signs you were raised by Arizonan parents.
1. You were forced to check your sheets before you went to bed.
Goodness knows why creepy crawlies wanted to spend the night next to your bare toes. But all mom and dad knew was, they bit, and hard. And all those trips to the hospital for anti-venom for you and your siblings sure added up.
2. You went through a giant tube of sunscreen every week in summer and every month throughout the rest of the year.
It only took one blistering sunburn and a look at grandma’s moles to realize: the Arizonan rays are not joking around. Your excellent parents ensured you were constantly slathered in SPF 50-plus. It didn’t matter if it was blended in or not, on was good enough.
3. Your immunity to hot sauce began in infancy.
One or more of your guardians spiked your pacifier with pepper juice, you just know it, because all of your friends marvel to this day at your seemingly numb tongue. You can swallow whole ghost peppers almost without flinching, and certainly enjoy downing a bottle of habañero salsa at every opportunity. In fact, you carry the stuff around with you like an adult binky.
4. You had to carry around a water bottle the size of your head, everywhere you went.
Right from the start, your parents knew heat stroke was a real threat. And now you preach to your out-of-town visitors like the champ they raised you to be: drink that H2O!
5. At least half your childhood words were Spanish.
Your mother, father, or your tía, made sure you could code switch about your barrio and how fast it’s gentrifying. And thanks to them, you’re eligible for twice as many jobs as non-bilingual folks.
6. As soon as they took the training wheels off your bike, your job was to locate stray cattle.
Depending on where you grew up, you either had to use your bike or your horse to round up stray cattle. Otherwise what was the use of having a highly mobile, free-range ranch child? Face it, your parents considered you to be free labor, and Arizona kids earn their keep.
7. Swimming in canals and/or irrigation water and/or flooded arroyos led to severe grounding.
Sometimes sprinklers didn’t cut it, so you did what the bad kids did — you ventured into forbidden waters. And when you got caught, you lost all your privileges. Now you know, though, your parents were saving you from washing away into the abyss, getting stuck with used hypodermic syringes, or both at the same time.
8. Cactus needles got picked out of your butt on the regular.
Even though you tried to hide it — maybe even for a few days — your parents would eventually figure out why you weren’t sitting comfortably in your chair at dinner. Yep, you fell into yet another cactus. This meant getting at least half naked, even if you were eight, climbing onto whichever parent’s lap, and having them pull thorns out of your cheeks with tweezers or a comb, depending on the culprit’s species.
9. You went to summer camp in the pines.
If your parents were lucky enough to afford it, they sent you away to a reprieve from the heat at a summer camp with the name “Friendly” in the title. It was in Prescott, Strawberry, or Flagstaff. You learned to make lanyards, you played “Light as a Feather,” and you sang songs that you still remember.
10. You were trained to pan for gold.
Less wealthy parents trained their kids to go out into the woods and pan for gold in stream beds. It was something the family could do together on the cheap, and hey, striking it rich is the stuff of Arizona lore.
11. Your family kept weird pets.
Horny toads and non-poisonous snakes were your bedside terrarium pals. You kept sickly chickens and gnarly goats. Your dog was never groomed and always full of stickers. The coyotes ate cats one through five and you didn’t get a sixth.
12. You learned to drive when you were 13…because of dad.
It was on a tractor or a four-by, and it was a stick shift. You progressed to a hub-locking Scout with a winch at 15, and that was the car you got your permit in. The MVD people didn’t bat an eye when you parallel parked perfectly, by the grace of some god or another.
13. You were sporadically woken up to the sound of a rattlesnake rattle.
If they’re trained properly with a rattle in the middle of the night, an Arizona kid can detect the sound of a diamondback from 100 yards in mesquite underbrush. This is the task of a masterful Arizona parent.
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