Growing up in the 90’s was great. You could stay up as late as you wanted to, eat all sorts of homemade treats at a classroom birthday party and somehow you and all your friends ended up at the same place without the use of cell phones. I miss those simple days and it’s almost sad to think my children (if I ever have them) will grow up with an entirely different set of rules. Rules that include words like “gluten free” and actual camcorders are nonexistent. Let’s be honest, though, we did some pretty sketchy stuff as kids back then, but no one ever seemed to get hurt. Life was simple back then but as much as I love technology there will be some things that I’ll be dying to let my children do that in today’s world will be deemed completely unacceptable.
Remember waking up early on a Saturday morning and fixing yourself a quick bite to eat on the stove? Waking the parentals early on a weekend was bad news for everyone. Or how about those vicious toys that could literally knock a child out? Our parents didn’t think twice before handing them over. Did you also experience the joy of watching your younger siblings tip dangerously over to the side in their car seat as Mom zipped through those turns? I’m pretty sure those car seats were meant for babies, the little plastic strollers certainly were. We’ve come a long way, so let’s take a moment to look back at these 15 things parents did in the 90’s that are unacceptable today.
15 Questionable Toys
Back in the 90’s a toy was not a toy if it didn’t make another child bleed. Not only were most toys made of plastic, easy to choke on parts, they were also capable of delivering some serious bodily harm. Anyone remember Sock ‘Em Boppers? how else can Sock ‘Em Boppers be described? Ah yes, boxing gloves. That’s all these toys were, boxing gloves for tiny children that enabled us to duke out our problems like we were in the Wild West, a fight to the death so to speak. You could get some serious force behind that Bopper, depending on the strength of the blow you had just endured. Friend ate the last cookie? Sock ‘Em Bopper to the throat. Who doesn’t remember slugging their kid sister in the face with one of these bad boys? While I cannot condone violence, there is something to be said for the toys that made us go outside and play. Now all the children I see are glued to iPads or phones. I say we re-invent this toy, it’s healthy to get out some aggression!
Remember when you could give your child a swift whack to remind them who’s boss? Not anymore because you’re little brat will have child protective services faster than you can say, “Where’s my Sock ‘Em Bopper?” Gone are the days where physical punishment was an option. I, for one, say let’s bring it back! I see so many meltdowns on a daily basis, at the store, in the post office, Target shopping; children breaking down into hysterics when they aren’t allowed to do something. When my sister and I were younger we never misbehaved, especially in public, because the fear of a spanking when we got home was enough. I don’t ever recall actually being spanked, but the threat of one did more than suffice. Let’s be honest, if your children don’t fear your wrath at least a little, why would they obey you? Now we have feeling sticks and “reflective corners” instead of time-outs. Spank them and be done, c’mon parents, take back your 90’s power!
13 Babies Watching Babies
Remember when your eleven year old watched your six-year-old and your four-year-old while you and the hubby drove an hour into the city for that big Christmas party? And we’re not talking about a “listen for if the baby cries” situations, oh no! More like, the party starts at 5 so we’re leaving at 3 so handle lunch, dinner, bath, and bedtime. Not anymore, those days are long gone! You want to go out in 2016? Good luck. To get one night out on the town you have to go online, create some in-depth profile and hire a 35-year-old 22 dollar an hour trilingual nanny who only has to sit and watch television while the kids sleep. Start giving those kids some life lessons at an early age, make them responsible for the lives of their siblings! I used to watch my younger siblings all the time, and guess what, no one ever died. Mission accomplished.
By the time the weekend rolls around, mom and dad are exhausted and the kids have boundless energy. When I was growing up, Saturday meant cartoons and the chance to whip myself up a snack. Back in the 90’s, it was perfectly acceptable to let your kids fire up the stove and get their own breakfast going so you could sleep well into the morning. Depending on the skill level of the children, you may even put in a request for your Saturday morning breakfast, as long as no one came in the room before ten a.m. Nowadays, we’re not only expected to keep our children a safe distance from the stove even when it’s not on, but we have to feed them healthy, gluten-free organic dishes at seven Sunday morning. No thanks. We all survived this far on our own burnt pancakes and chocolate milk so I say we were doing something right.
11 Leave the Kids in the Car, Just for a Sec...
Yes, we understand how dangerous it is to leave children unattended in the car for even two minutes, but we also understand how big of a pain it is to unhook all the car seat straps just to run in and pick up some milk. Not only that but if the kids come into the store, all hell will break loose and tantrums will be thrown until everyone walks out with a treat. Run in for four dollar milk, walk out with twenty buck worth of candy and toys. Back in yesteryear, you’d be able to appoint your four-year-old King of the Car and designate them responsible for your sleeping two-month-old. Don’t people know how exhausting infants are, who would want to swipe one? No one was ever concerned about heat stroke back then, the kids would just be left to sweat out all the toxins, like a homemade sweat lodge. People pay big money for that service now.
10 Vitamins? What are vitamins?
I remember when the Flintstones vitamins were a huge craze! That lasted for about five minutes. We eagerly took our vitamins for a week before everyone in the family lost all interest. Now with all the magazine articles and doctors on television shows telling us how important it is, our children ingesting 12 different kinds of pills daily. There are vitamins for your hair, for your skin, to up your vitamin D count, to get that recommended dose of fish oil, etc etc. Our immune systems have evolved quite drastically over the years, shouldn’t we trust in Mother Nature a bit more, or at least hold off on pumping our kids full of “healthy” pills. It wasn’t that long ago that we were promoting red meat-heavy diets and look how that’s changed just in the last few years. You used to be able to let your kids grow and only give them vitamins and pills when something wasn’t working. With all our preemptive strikes these days, could we be doing more harm than good? What will research tell us in the next 15 years…?
9 Home Baked Treats
The best part about a birthday while in elementary school was the delicious home baked goodies that the parents brought in. We’d take a break in the middle of the day and enjoy the fresh cookies or the homemade chocolate cake and no one ever dropped dead of poison, at least not in my class. These days kids get to bring pre-packaged sugar-free “treats” to share with their friends. Nobody wants that stuff, kids want sugar! Birthdays are to be celebrated, not destroyed by hard, bland cookies! Bring back the homemade treats and let’s operate under the assumption that your neighbor is not trying to snuff out your six year old. Easy solution? Pick a random goodie and have the parent eat it. Still breathing? Hand out the snacks. As adults, we pay good money for homemade food options but will continue to deprive our children of that luxury. Makes sense.
8 Absent from School
Back in the 90’s your kid could miss school and stroll back in the next day, no questions asked. Truth be told, no one probably noticed your child was gone, or at the very most noted how unusually quiet the day seemed. Now the school will call you the second they notice your child missed roll call and will demand your child brings in a note from a doctor if you’re claiming a cough. Sometimes your oldest needs to stay home to watch your youngest because you got called into work. Adults had the mentality of, “The school can get over it”. Not anymore, now there are all these rules to abide by now, like x amount of missed days equals no graduation. Planning a family vacation? Better contact the school ahead of time, explain the situation, gather the missed assignments and ask about how to make up the participation points!
7 Streetlights On? Better Get Home
Ah, the old street light rule. Were there less kidnappings back in the day, or were we just oblivious? It’s clear that as media coverage increases so does our awareness of the world around us, but sometimes ignorance is bliss. It seemed like I played outside with my friends from sun up to sun down. Parents really didn't start to worry unless the street lights had come on and you weren’t home, and even then, “worry” is a bit strong. Mildly concerned. Maybe once dinner was over, that’s when the real worry started. Can you imagine telling your kids tomorrow, “Go do whatever it is you do, just be back before it’s too dark to see outside!” Nope, now parents must be aware of their child’s whereabouts every second of every day. Sounds exhausting if you ask me. Long gone are the days where people left children alone (if those days ever really existed).
6 Sketchy Strollers
Did you know there are strollers out there that cost a thousand dollars? Not only that, but people buy strollers that cost one thousand dollars! If you were a kid growing up in the 90’s you may have vague recollections of being pushed around in a tiny plastic stroller that you could barely fit in and whose wheels wobbled under the weight of your three-year-old body. I’m fairly certain all the strollers that transported children back then were originally manufactured for dolls but no one got the memo. You definitely didn’t see a petite mom in her full yoga gear jogging with the family dog and pushing the kid in one of these bad boys, the stroller would likely catch fire or spontaneously combust. The tide has shifted, now your social status can be determined by the type of stroller your child rides around in. Heaven forbid you to be seen in a four-wheeler, it's all about the aerodynamic three wheel design these days.
5 Halloween Costumes
Halloween wasn’t so much about what you wanted to be as about what your parents wanted to put you in. 60 dollar costume you’ll wear once? I don’t think so. Back in the frugal 90’s days when DIY wasn't so much a ‘trend’ as a way of life, parents made costumes out of whatever crap they had sitting around the house the day of. “Oh, Halloween parade today? Grab the foil and some scotch tape.” My own mother used to puff paint Halloween sweatshirts every year for us to wear; think we ever got a say in what went on it? Nope, it was all up to her and bless her heart for trying. We’d walk around with our puff paint sweatshirts that had all those air bubbles like the rest of the kids at school. It wasn’t the “cool” thing to do, it was the practical, affordable thing to do. Nowadays the costumes are so elaborate, not to mention the sluttiness factor increases by 5% each year.
4 Clothing Optional
If you’re going out tonight, you’d better force your kid into a jacket. It’s currently 87 degrees outside? Doesn’t matter. If your child isn’t bundled up to look like Ralphie’s baby brother in A Christmas Story then you must not truly love your kid. I’ve seen children so ridiculously layered on warm summer nights that you almost want to report the parents for cruel and unusual punishment! Not only that, but then the parents expect the kid to keep their jacket clean. A child’s sole purpose is to dirty everything they see. Want a clean jacket? Take it off! I remember so many times being eight years old playing at the park down the street and some of my friends didn’t even have shoes on, let alone jackets! The jackets came out when the snow started to fall, which was never. Why do you think the signs “No Shirt No Shoes No Service” came about? Children from the 90’s! Can you imagine if your child walked all the way down the street today with no shoes? You’d be publicly shamed!
3 Unfiltered Internet Use
Who else remembers staying up until one a.m. on a school night playing some sketchy online game and chatting with strangers? Or how exciting it was to use instant messenger, even though we all had phones in the house. Nope, better to sit in the dark and listen for the little noise notification to go off. We had no clue as to the immense power of the internet. A person could be lying to me? Nah. We chatted with strangers and shared personal details; we basically did all the “no-no’s” of today’s internet use. Now, with all the creeps and pervs out there we have to very carefully control and filter what our children are doing online and who exactly they are communicating with. We didn’t bully each other online, we just punched each other at school, problem solved. The more we try to control it, the less control we have. I’m not one to talk though, if I ever have children the home computers will all be password encrypted; you’ll get the code on your 18th birthday.
2 Cell Phones
How did you get a cell phone back in the 90’s? You didn’t. You called collect and left your message when it beeped for your name. Then you waited and hoped that drama class had paid off and you enunciated. When I was a kid and the weekend rolled around, all my friends somehow managed to make it to the same place without the use of cell phones. Party moved? We all found the new house without a GPS system. I hope we’re not conditioning our children to solely rely on technology, there’s something to be said about wanting to see a house band bad enough that you’ll find your way through the back roads and the corn fields. I’m so reliant of my phone now for everything, I constantly check it every five minutes and I’m not the only one. Now it’s not strange to see seven year olds walking around the mall with their parents, chatting it up on their own cell phone (a cell phone that’s usually better than mine, by the way). I got a cell phone when I was 18 and could sign the contract and pay the bill myself.
1 Dietary Restrictions
What in the world is a gluten intolerance? Allergies? Try it anyway, if you stop breathing like the last time then we’ll know for sure you can’t have it. You have something on your plate, eat it, if it makes you stop breathing we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Are we babying our children more than necessary? I know, “more than necessary” is a vague phrase but I’ve worked at restaurants where the parent has asked about the gluten free, soy options with no nut options for their child. Uh, there is none. If you want something that specific, make it yourself. When I was a kid, I ate all the time. There was no wait until dinner time rule but you better be sure you finish what’s on your dinner plate when the time rolls around. We’d have bowls of ice cream bigger than our head, slather our pancakes in butter, peanut butter, and then syrup and literally scoop sugar into our Rice Krispies cereal. I almost feel bad for the children of the world today, with their egg white omelets and watermelon juice. At least give the kid a poptart.