Being a kid was the best, especially in the ’80s and ’90s (probably in other decades too, but I write about what I know, you know?). Here’s a list of 11 things we didn’t appreciate as kids but should have.
1. Bar/Bat Mitzvah parties.
If you lived in a big city, you probably had a Bar or Bat Mitzvah party to attend every weekend in 7th grade – sometimes even two. And if you’re Jewish or law-abiding, your parents probably forced you to attend the religious temple services on Saturday mornings. That part wasn’t great, but what WAS great were the Saturday night parties. There was always a DJ or a fun dance crew to get everyone pumped to jump up and down to Sir Mix-a-Lot and YMCA (the latter was always per the parents’ section request). We automatically had a fun party to attend every weekend. They were just built-in. Now, as adults, we get invited to a party once every couple of months, maybe. And they’re BYOB, and don’t have cool prizes like oversized sunglasses or glow necklaces.
2. Someone always cooking for us.
Whether it was our parents or someone else’s parents, we were never left to fend for ourselves (at least not before we could drive). Even if the food was gross, it was still homemade (or microwaved) and relatively nutritional. Now we have to go to the store, buy the food, prepare the food and clean up the mess we made with the food. And that’s only if we aren’t too tired from a long day at work. If we’re feeling lazy (which we usually are), then it’s whatever leftovers we can carry in one trip from the kitchen to the couch.
3. Having a pet and our parents taking care of it.
Dogs are the best (I feel neutral about cats, but I appreciate that you may love them), but it can be a pain having one in an apartment. Sometimes we just don’t feel like walking them, running home to feed them, or bathing them after they roll around in another dog’s poo. As kids, if we didn’t take care of the pet, our parents had to do it. If they didn’t, the pet would die (or be sent to a “farm”). Parents couldn’t deal with that kind of guilt, so it was a win-win (for us and our pets).
4. Not always being reachable.
We didn’t have cell phones (unless you were lucky enough to have a Zack Morris phone) or email, and it was great. We were never held accountable for missing a phone call. We’d call back when we were home and had the chance. Now it’s considered rude if we don’t call, text, email or Facebook message someone back right away. This generational etiquette takes away from us being fully present in whatever we are doing and whoever we are with (or doing).
5. Friendship bracelets.
Kids are generous. I’d get a new friendship bracelet at least once a month. And that’s not because I was popular or nice, it’s because my friends and I didn’t have anything else to do besides make bracelets (I was nice though). It was a way to claim and solidify friendships. Now I don’t know anyone over thirteen who makes friendship bracelets except for me. I make them for myself (I’m friends with me, so it only makes sense) and for my friends, who always promise to reciprocate, but don’t, because who has time to make bracelets (except for me and all girls under thirteen)? Adults are way less generous with their time, but they’re still cool and fun to be around (some of them).
6. Living under the same roof (or even the same city) as family.
Our siblings drove us crazy, and we couldn’t wait to get away from our parents’ rules and constant nagging. But once we did, we missed them. And as adults, we still miss them. We took the accessible unconditional love for granted. We also took for granted not having to buy a plane ticket every time we wanted to give mom and dad a hug. Or have them take us shopping (we are never too old or successful for that).
7. ’90s fashion.
We wore oversized flannels on top of oversized t-shirts, dyed our hair with Sun In, and wore belly chains and toe rings like they were going out of style (they were). We wore Umbros and Big Dog shirts, and didn’t just get away with it, we looked cool. Fashion was easy and comfortable. It’s still easy and comfortable if we want it to be, just not as comfortable as Hammer pants and Birkenstocks.
8. Playing outside.
Playing outside was the original social networking. As grown ups, we don’t play outside as much as we want to. Partly because we have anxiety about not being home, and partly because what would we play? I’m always trying to get my friends to play kickball or capture the flag. Everyone’s always into it for nostalgic and fitness reasons, but we never do it. It takes a lot of effort to rally a bunch of adults to play outside. People are busy and generally lazy. We can’t just knock on someone’s door and drag them into the middle of the street for a game of street hockey (or can we?).
9. Awesome kids’ TV shows.
Full House, Inspector Gadget, Goof Troop, Double Dare, Guts, Punky Brewster, Are you Afraid of the Dark?, My So Called Life, Adventures of Pete and Pete, Darkwing Duck, Alex Mack, Blossom, Step by Step, Family Matters... just to name one or two. It’s amazing how well we turned out for watching 40 hours of TV a week. I try and watch kids’ shows now (not in a creepy way… in a “I like kid’s stuff” way), and they’re so hip and weird and confusing. There’s no way shows like Clarissa Explains It All and Alf were weird or confusing, right?
In school, we were immersed in knowledge, and we hated it (well, I hated it). We couldn’t wait for recess or the end of the day when we could go home to play outside or watch TV. We’d fall asleep in class, write notes (folded into origami shapes, obviously), and erase nothing until all the eraser bits formed a new eraser (just me?). The older we get, the worse we get at knowing and learning things. Learning isn’t a part of our daily routine. It requires effort. And effort is hard.
11. Believing we are untouchable.
That nothing bad would ever happen to us or anyone we know. Of course, some of us had health issues or lost someone close to us, but for the most part, we believed nothing could hurt us. Because our parents made us feel safe, and that was the best feeling. As adults, we feel loss, heartbreak, anxiety and worry. And those feelings suck. Remember when your biggest worry was whether or not your Nintendo would work without blowing in it?