1. Trophies really meant something
Like I had to be in ballet for five years before I got a participation trophy. FIVE!!! And sports trophies came in different sizes so that the person who got first place got a bigger trophy than second and third. Duh, reality.
2. Birthday parties were low-key
They didn’t cost hundreds of dollars and they were usually in someone’s backyard and maybe there was a piñata… if it was fancy. But for the most part we were just let loose to play with twenty of our friends and it was like the biggest most awesome playdate of the year. Oh, and the birthday kid opened the presents AT the birthday party and we all stood around and watched him get showered with presents and we were okay with it.
3. We didn’t watch movies in the car
We had to entertain ourselves and if we were bored we played games like “only let the car move you” and everyone would have to go limp and just let the car move them. And there weren’t five-point harnesses so whenever the car turned left or right you’d flop around and the game didn’t end until all the kids ended up in a giggling pile on the floor.
4. Halloween costumes were homemade
So you had to use your imagination to come up with an idea and you couldn’t change your mind at the last minute and beg your mom to order a new one on Amazon to get here by tomorrow.
5. If you didn’t eat your veggies, you didn’t get dessert
6. Everyone watched TV at 7:00
And we all watched the same TV shows at the same time, so we would sit at the lunch table the next day and talk about last night’s 90210 and how Brenda and Dylan broke up and no one at the table would yell, “NOOOOOOO, don’t tell me, I haven’t watched it yet!!!!”
7. And there was no such thing as fast forwarding through commercials
So everyone knew things like “Hey, Kool Aid!!” and “You sank my battleship!” and “Pretty sneaky sis.”
8. My mom didn’t complain to the teacher
If I didn’t do well on a test, you know what I did? I worked harder the next time. And if I didn’t get put in the same group as my friends, I sucked it up. And if I didn’t make the team, I had a good cry and moved on. My mom never called the teacher to complain. Not when I was 7, not when I was 12, and definitely not when I was in college.
8. It wasn’t all instant gratification
Like you couldn’t just stream a movie on the Internet. So on Saturday nights you went to Blockbuster, where there was a wall full of new releases but if the case didn’t have a VHS tape behind it, you were SOL and had to wait until next week. Or if you REALLY wanted it, you could walk to the front and ask, “Did anyone turn in Gremlins?” and they’d usually say, “Nope,” but sometimes they’d look in the return bin and say, “You’re in luck,” and you’d be like, “SCORE!!” and then you’d go home but you still couldn’t watch it right away because you had to rewind it first.
9. If you wanted a song, you had to buy the whole album
Or you could record it off the radio, so if someone made you a mixed tape, a song might suddenly be interrupted by the DJ saying something like “And that’s the end of another Hot Jam Hits Hour brought to you by Aquanet, the best hairspray to hold in your hot dog bangs.”
10. Sports weren’t over-the-top
If you played a sport, it was one practice a week, one game a week, academics came first, and it wasn’t like you weren’t training to be the Olympics. Oh, and the parents who watched it from the sidelines shouted stuff like, “Big kick!!” or “Go get’m, tiger,” instead of, “If your kid pushes my kid again, I’m gonna beat the crap out of you.”
11. Kids weren’t treated like delicate little flowers
They walked to school. They weren’t constantly entertained. They respected grownups and called them Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So. They had to do chores. Organic wasn’t a thing yet. Every mean comment wasn’t called bullying. Kids had to wait a whole week for the next episode. Hand sanitizer wasn’t invented yet. Movie theaters weren’t sloped. Kids didn’t get cake pops every day. And when boys asked girls to the prom, they just called them on the phone and asked. Etc etc etc.
And I’m not saying it was perfect, and we’re still all a little F’ed up, and I know I sound like an old geezer when I complain, but when I was a kid, things were a little bit harder. And maybe that was a good thing.
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