My husband and I like to banter about how differently we grew up. He was always outside, running around the neighborhood. He was the quintessential late-’80s/early ’90s kid who came inside only when the streetlights came on, and with a lot of reluctance.
Me? I went outside because my parents pushed me outside. I was the kid who preferred to sit indoors reading Goosebumps books and watching Rescue 911 reruns over climbing a tree or playing tag. Granted, I somewhat enjoyed being outside, but not nearly as much as I enjoyed playing Super Mario Bros. 2 and wondering why the heck it looked so different from its predecessor and successor.
My husband gets the last laugh when we go for a run and he’s breezing right along while I’m struggling to catch up – but there are so many areas in which I totally one-up him. Because being an indoor kid was actually the best, and gave me the following benefits that I might not have had if I’d been outside more.
Keeping my nose in a book at all times
Being an indoor kid afforded me the opportunity to always have my nose in a book, without worrying about whether a bug was going to crawl up on me or some kind on rollerblades was going to run into me while I was minding my own business, waiting to find out whether Mary Anne and Kristy would ever make up after their worst fight ever. Of course, there are plenty of literary outdoor kids, too, but preferring the inside of a library to the outside certainly helps. Today, I can sling my weight around in literature-related discussions with the best of them. Plus, I’m certain I built a lot of valuable vocabulary skills from all the reading I did, which helps a lot with my writing (and editing) today.
Getting to know my parents better
If you’re outside all the time and your parents aren’t, between them working and you going to school, it can be hard to really get in a conversation except for over the dinner table – and that’s even dinner-table conversation was even a thing in your family. My mom was a waitress who worked late a lot, so it wasn’t always possible for us to get a lot of conversation time in. But being an indoor kid meant that I got one-on-one time with her, my dad, and even my grandmother when she was babysitting us that I might not have gotten as often if I’d been running around outside all the time.
I’ve been complimented a lot on how good my skin is, and I 100% owe it to sunscreen and my uncanny ability to avoid the sun whenever humanly possible. I don’t see the sun a lot. And that’s OK, because old-lady Jen will thank indoor-kid Jen (though I’m still moisturizing and drinking water like crazy because who knows).
Being killer at pop culture trivia
All those hours in front of the TV watching random shows that were only a blip on the pop-culture radar have paid off, if I’m being honest. I have carried many a trivia game with answer gems such as, “What was Doug Funnie’s middle name?” (Yancey) or “Who was the founder of The Baby-Sitters Club?” (Kristy Thomas). Or, my favorite: “What was the name of the vacuum cleaner in Teletubbies?” Yes, my friends, I remembered the name of the Noo-noo. And my friends still tell stories about that glorious night.
“But Jen,” you might say, “that space in your brain could be occupied by so many more important things.” To that I reply, how many of said important things would win me free pizza? Answer THAT.
Learning household stuff earlier
Know what wasn’t a shock to me when I got to college? Doing my own laundry. Cleaning. Cooking (OK no, I’m still mastering that one at 30). This is stuff that goes on behind the scenes when you’re a kid, but if you’re inside all the time, you kind of start to pick up on these things early. Handy skills when you’re cramming for tests and don’t have time to teach yourself how not to bleach all your clothes accidentally.
Broken bones, bug bites, etc.? LOL no
I’m a big believer in exposing yourself to tough challenges when you’re young to make you a better/stronger person and all that jazz. I don’t believe in sticking yourself in a bubble, because growing in a bubble is out of the question. But anyway, I’ve to this day never had a broken bone or been stung by a bee or other terrifying flying creature. And I’m not mad about it. Those are challenges I’m OK not facing.
Making friends online
I know a lot of people who made some of their best childhood friends while running around the neighborhood. Personally, I made my best friends in school and – not surprisingly, given my introversion – on the internet. Spending time online helped me build communication skills I really might have missed out on had I not socialized at all while spending time indoors and, as a bonus, helped me become more familiar with technology. Which is kind of helpful today, as you might have picked up on.
[Image via NBC]