I grew up as a third-generation Mexican-American, in a town with a large Hispanic/Latino population. My Latin story is different than the first generation kids; but, here are some things most Latin kids know way too well.
Saturday Is Cleaning Day: Every Saturday, unless my parents were ill or had been kidnapped by zombies, (which, when I was 12, I sort of wished would happen) I, along with my siblings, cleaned. We got on your hands and knees and cleaned. We dusted the fans, vacuumed every room, and the stairs. The vacuuming had to be done early in the day so that mom could shampoo the carpets. The very same carpets that were just shampooed last week. My sister would wash the dishes, even though we had a dishwasher. My mom swore the dishwasher didn’t work properly and claimed that it would leave germs on our dishes. The lawn had to be mowed, weeds had to be pulled, trees were trimmed, and the windows were cleaned from both the outside and inside. Again, this happened every week. Some carried this tradition with them into adulthood. I, on the other hand, vacuum once a month, and I hired a maid to do my in-depth cleaning. However, I do laundry like nobody’s business.
Your Clothes Must Be Ironed and Hair Must Be Combed: If we were going out as a family, even to Wal-Mart, we had to look presentable. Hair was brushed, the lotion was on, the clothes were ironed, and our shoes were clean. My parents, to this day, still iron their clothes the night before. My mom will never wear leggings to Target. Not even for a 6 pm run. Even then, she’s in jeans (that are ironed) clean shoes, and a t-shirt. Needless to say, none of us kids iron.
Hungry/Not Hungry: We eat before we go visit family. That is, to make sure we didn’t go over hungry. Because what kind of parents don’t feed their kids, right? Well, here is the problem with that- everyone wants to feed you. So, you visit your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc, and they all have prepared something or will prepare something; and, you can’t say “no thank you,” because that is disrespectful. Therefore, you eat, and you eat again. As we got older, my siblings and I have taught our parent’s portion control and salad eating.
No Sleep Overs: I was never allowed to sleep over at any friends house. Why? Because people might want to kidnap or sexually assault me. I was finally allowed to sleep over at friends house when I was in the 8th grade. But it took my parents four years to trust my friend’s parents. I was, though, allowed to have kids over whenever I wanted.
No Locked Doors: I was allowed to keep my doors closed. It was okay to have privacy. However, we couldn’t lock our doors. It was not for safety reasons; it was out of respect.
My childhood had a lot of lessons, that I still take with me this day. Even when I work from home, I still shower, brush my hair, and put on clean clothes.