Having been born and raised in Southern California and now birthing and raising my own kids in this palm tree-laden paradise, I’ve experienced enough of this golden state to know that we have it pretty good here — at least I think we do.
Then again, I’ve never known anything different. I never left this glorious weather to seek higher education in a state with four distinct seasons. I never moved away from the best stateside guacamole for an exciting job opportunity. With experiences and opportunity a-plenty, California’s managed to provide everything I could ever hope for in a climate I can’t live without.
But for all the amazing things this great state has to offer, parenting in the southern region has the potential to become a cliché experience. Here are some things only SoCal parents understand …
1. Kids sleep through earthquakes.
What’s a little earth movement between dreams? No big thing, that’s what. Even before your kid could read, they knew how to take that California pause to assess an earthquake’s intensity before even considering the long and purposeful walk over to the doorway for safety.
2. Smog alerts matter.
While air quality has improved tremendously since I was sitting out recesses on account of smog, SoCal parents know the frightening reality of that tight-chested feeling our kids get from playing outside on pollution-rich days.
3. In-N-Out is NBD.
With 137 Southern California locations (and two in my city alone), spotting an In-N-Out is about as commonplace as finding a palm tree in your own front yard. It might as well be a rule that your kids are allowed to be treated to a burger now and then! Oh, and you regularly debate the necessity of In-N-Out’s “regular” menu since no one orders off of it anyway.
4. Sports are year-round.
There’s no rest for weary parents when it comes to youth sports. With great weather all year long, sports are always in season.
5. Parenting in the rain is impossible.
While our kids love the sheer novelty of rain, most parents don’t do rain — at least not very well. We don’t know how to drive in it, our roads aren’t equipped to drain it, we usually can’t find our umbrellas, and dude, we’re wearing flip-flops. If it’s raining we’re canceling our plans and we’re not leaving the house until it’s stopped.
6. One of our child’s first words was “dude.”
Whether you live in the valley or not, your kid grows up using the word “dude” to address men, women, and fellow children. “Dude” is also used as a language marker to express camaraderie or emphasis.
7. Any temp cooler than 68ºF requires a jacket.
We’re cold-blooded, thin-skinned, and inconvenienced by climates that stretch the comfortable boundaries of warm and dry. The struggle is real.
8. From the beach to the mountains in 90 minutes (with traffic).
It’s not unusual to spend a Saturday camping in the mountains and a Sunday surfing at the beach. In fact, many families never venture outside the state for family vacations because why would they? Everything’s here!
9. We go to Disneyland … a lot.
“We were just there on Tuesday!” our kid will say. We all go so often, it’s hard to elicit the same level of excitement you see from the kids in the commercials … unless you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World, of course.
10. Our kids are green-smoothie snobs.
Not all green smoothies are created equal. Just ask our kids.
11. Our kid’s [fill in the blank] is in the industry.
There’s no six degrees of separation between your child and show business. You can guarantee your kid’s friend/friend’s parent/teacher/teammate/babysitter is producing/directing/casting/auditioning/starring/performing in the latest movie/TV show/album/music/animated short.
12. Taco Tuesdays are mandatory …
… and not just any taco will do. Authentic Mexican cuisine from a hole-in-the-wall joint with no sign and a line around the block is what it’s all about. This is the one time your child won’t mind waiting.
13. Our kids wear the same clothes year-round.
We may not invest in heavy winter coats or durable rain boots, but we do have to purchase quite a few swimsuits and flip-flops.
14. A trip on the 405 requires rations.
Interstate 405 is a super-important freeway in Southern California. It is so vital in connecting everybody to everything that it ranks among the nation’s worst rage-inducing commutes. “Pack rations and use the potty. We’re hitting the 405! [groan]” By the time you reach your destination, your kid has grown about an inch and you’re in need of a few more units of Botox.
15. There are way too many students in our kid’s class.
While California class sizes rank the highest in the nation with a state average of 23.4 students per teacher, the last three years of my kids’ elementary education saw class sizes ranging from 30-34 students, on average.
16. Santa Anas ruin lives.
Santa Ana winds are these hot and crazy strong desert winds that whip through SoCal, taking every last bit of your body’s living moisture with it. Prepare for wicked allergies, sleepless nights, bloodshot eyes, bad moods, angry skin, and other flu-like symptoms.
17. The frustration of only being able to purchase jackets two months out of the year.
While we understand the concept of seasonal inventory, it’s really hard to think about how cold (remember: <70ºF) we’ll actually feel come January when we didn’t purchase a jacket when we had the chance between September (hello, month of record highs) and November. Thank goodness for online shopping.
18. “Sunday best” includes jeans.
On the rare occasion our child is required to forfeit California casual for more formal attire, there will be many, many questions and ridiculous amounts of confusion.
19. Half of everyone our child knows is a vegetarian.
“Mason doesn’t eat meat; neither does Ryan, Casey, Emily, or Charlie! Why do we eat meat? Meat is mean!” I know, honey. Now finish your organic turkey meat loaf.
20. Water restrictions and rolling blackouts.
Between California’s water shortage and deliberate power cuts designed to lessen the electrical load, there’s no running though the sprinklers or playing with the hose to cool down — we could get fined for that!
21. College savings — yeah, yeah, yeah.
California is one of the lucky states to offer state-subsidized college education. Sure, it’s still expensive for most. Sure, classes are hard to get, but for California residents, an “affordable” and attainable college education can be yours. Talk about California dreamin’!
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