I was born and raised in the 80s, and I sort of remember when “Back to the Future” came out. I can say for sure that if Marty and Dr. Emmett Brown offered to give my family and me a ride in their DeLorean, I’d want to go straight back to the 80s and raise my children there.
1 | You could play in the street and get dirty
I grew up in a big apartment building, and I still remember all the afternoons spent playing with the other children living there. We’d roller-skate, skip rope, play football, play volleyball, ride our bikes, fall over, graze our knees, and get up again. We’d fight with each other and then become friends again. With not one single adult in sight.
At dinnertime, our mums would start calling us from the balcony. Dinner was ready, and it was time to go up, have a shower, and eat. And that was that.
2 | People actually had to talk to each other
Imagine that. If your friends wanted to talk to you after school, they had to ring your house phone – and often memorize that number, too, which meant you knew your house number and your friends’ and relatives’ in case you were lost somewhere. Not bad, hey? But anyway, if you wanted to see your friends, guess what, you had to physically meet up with them. Like, for a ‘play date,’ except if you’d said that, they would have looked at you like you were on drugs.
3 | Children knew how to have a good time…even without screens!
See above. Our children sadly will grow up slightly dependent on smart phones and tablets. Don’t get me wrong, the things are amazing. They have massively improved our lives in many ways.
But the lifestyle has changed, and our children are missing out on the fun and freedom of playing outdoors, being bored, and making up games to relieve the boredom. Those days of making things out of rocks, leaves, and sticks or just pretending to be your favorite cartoon character all day.
4 | Car seats? What car seats?
Okay, car seats and seat belts are actually a good thing. A very good thing. I believe in car safety, and I’m sure everyone agrees that seat belts and car seats, when used correctly, save lives. But does anyone remember riding in their parents’ car sitting (or standing) in the back, in between the two front seats, looking outside like a meerkat and chatting straight into your parents’ ears? (How annoying must have that been!)
It’s a miracle so many of us made it to adulthood, really. But I’m sure it didn’t take my parents 10 minutes to buckle us in the car. And they never had to do the karate chop to get a resistant child in rod-like mode to actually sit down in their seat. Yes, those times.
5 | There were no sandwich-cut-in-the-wrong-shape-related tantrums
The first time my mum made a slice of toast for my then-3-year-old, she cut them in squares. Thankfully, I intercepted her before she delivered said slice of toast on the pink plate to my son, and I was able to cut the squares into tiny triangles (undetected) and move the whole thing to a blue plate. Phew!
Doesn’t she know what happens if you give them squares when they asked for triangles? Or the pink plate when clearly we’re in the blue-plate phase? No. My mum actually didn’t know. In her days, we’d either eat what she gave us or we didn’t eat at all.
6 | When your parents said NO it meant NO
My parents had ‘the look.’ And I know you know what I’m talking about – the one that came out when you were in trouble. Or it was time to be quiet. Or do as told.
I’m not sure why, but our generation of parents seems to have lost the ability to reproduce ‘the look’. So when we say no, we’re often met with meltdowns, tears, or negotiation tactics. We do the right thing for a while. Then we give in because we don’t want to hurt their feelings (!) and stop them from growing into confident adults, right?
Or we simply can’t deal with the noise. Don’t even try and deny this.
7 | New items were for birthdays, Christmas, and big occasions
With the exception of my school uniform and my ‘Sunday clothes,’ I pretty much spent my childhood in my older cousins’ used jumpers and tracksuits. Male cousins, I should add. Most of our toys were also hand-me-downs from our older cousins, and our board games came from the local second-hand spring market.
We grew up understanding the value of things, knowing that our parents worked and earned money, and we could have the things we needed, but not anything you wanted. Say that to our tablet-holding primary-school-aged children!
Don’t get me wrong. We’ve come a long way. I’m sure our lives as parents are a lot easier in certain ways than our parents’ lives were.
People often talk about the importance of knowing where you came from. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea for some of us to remember when we came from.
What do you wish you could get back from the days you were growing up?