40 Things Gen Xers Did Growing Up -That Our Kids Will Never Need to Do

40 Things Gen Xers Did that Our Kids WIll Never Need to Do

Last night, as Ry, my 9yo daughter ran out of the room to grab a blanket she yelled, “Mom, press pause, OK?”

“Um, I would … if we weren’t playing cards.”

Did she really ask me to press pause during a game of UNO?

Kids are so used to being able to can control anything with the push of a button –they can “stop,” and “pause,” and “delete,” and “restart” pretty much anything, including their toothbrushes. It makes playing a game like UNO in this day and age seem pretty archaic.

As a child, I recall hearing Baby Boomers talk about watching black and white television, listening to radio soap operas, or playing 78rpm records … and thinking how totally obsolete those activities are to my generation. As an adult, I realize there were so many things Gen Xers did as a children that my children would currently find beyond antiquated and obsolete or better yet, wouldn’t even understand the need for in the first place.

Here are just a few things my kids will never have to do (some of which I enjoyed very much):

  1. Ignore the B-side
  2. Mail a letter
  3. Use all their fingers to type
  4. Fill an ice tray
  5. Get up to turn the channel (while possibly walking across static causing shag carpets, no less).
  6. Survive with only 4 channels
  7. Blow on a video game cartridge. I still do this with scratched DVDs — it makes my kids laugh.
  8. Write notes in class
  9. Learn to spell
  10. Get information from reference books
  11. Be a part of a family decision in which you decide whether to buy a Beta or VHS player
  12. Write a check
  13. See #11 but sub in Atari and Coleco
  14. Take a Polaroid picture and shake it like one — even though you weren’t supposed to shake them.
  15. Adjust the tracking button
  16. Clap to get your lights on or off
  17. Pay a fee for not rewinding a VHS tape before returning it to the video store
  18. Dial a rotary phone – or know the frustration when you got the number wrong more than once.
  19. Borrow a quarter to make a phone call.
  20. Twist the cord on a phone as you nervously talked to a cute crush
  21. Answer the phone every time it rang because you never knew who could be calling
  22. Ask a human for directions
  23. Wait for their favorite song to come on the radio so they can record it
  24. Watch commercials
  25. Pull up the antenna on their cell phone
  26. Watch a show during the actual day and time it aired
  27. Manually roll down a window
  28. Trade stickers
  29. Skate to 70s and 80s music when it wasn’t considered retro
  30. Make a mix tape
  31. Read a map
  32. Use the Dewey Decimal System
  33. Have the school nurse give you a hot water bottle for cramps
  34. Use reinforcers for your loose-leaf paper (or for fake nails)
  35. Make sure the 4 Food Groups are represented
  36. Reach across a car to unlock a door
  37. Write in cursive
  38. Carry a date or address book — and get the refills for it each calendar year
  39. Put film in a camera (oh, and accidentally have the camera pop open only to render the whole roll blank).
  40. Go to a Drive-in movie (and fight over who got to lie across the back ledge of the car).


XO- Jenny From the Blog (Formerly, Jenny from the 8-Track)

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16 thoughts on “40 Things Gen Xers Did Growing Up -That Our Kids Will Never Need to Do


    How about a bankbook. With your savings deposits listed. How about going to a gas station and an attendent pumps your gas. How about cleaning chalk erasers at school. I could probably thing of more if I had the time…Oh wait I wouldn’t be making this list on a computer. lol

  2. Brenda Dion

    Love this list!!!! A couple of years ago I rented a cheap (economy size) rental car and it had roll down windows. My kids STILL talk about it today! They WANT to get that car again. They thought it was fun. Go figure? Luckily there are still drive in movies but gone is the station wagon and that back ledge of the other 80s cars! Rotary phones, cords and people who actually answer the phone (sniff, sniff) – calling and answering used to be such an “experience.”
    Brenda Dion recently posted…Stop the Presses – The Digital Press, That IsMy Profile

  3. sandra

    we have one of the nations last drive in theaters near me and i cant wait until my kids can stay up past dark (they are 1 and 2) so we can go watch something fun. but the rest are dead on. i still cant believe they aren’t teaching cursive anymore

  4. Kate Clark

    My daughter tried to make a call several times before hanging up stating the phone was broken. When I tried, I had to explain to her what a busy signal was.

  5. brenda

    Try to untwist the unravelled tape from a cassette and wind it back in with a pencil. Watch “You Can’t Do That on Television” and want nothing more than get slimed. Decorate your walls with pull-out posters from Tiger Beat. Belong to Columbia House music club. Dress in Gunne Sax and Laura Ashley, or Esprit and Benneton. Put hairspray in your hair while blowing your bangs straight up with the hairdryer.

  6. Bari

    Sorry, I wasn’t a genxer!! These things are so out of my league….I mean except for the typing maybe, but I was never any good at that any way ! PS what’s Atari and CD’s I only know from 45’s!!!

  7. Victoria

    My kids ask me to hit the pause button when we are reading stories and one of them has to use the bathroom. 🙂 I have to say that I miss mix tapes the most. Do they still do Christmas Clubs at banks? And what about dealing with the phone company – phones only came in colors like bisque, avocado, white or black and you leased your phone from the phone company.

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  9. Heather

    How about roaming around the car as a kid or better yet, laying down blankets in the back and laying down during a road trip?

  10. me

    yes, to rolling down the windows. i’ve often thought that people will eventually wonder why they say ‘roll’ down the window while all they do is press a button. it will probably end up one of those interesting ‘where this saying came from’ things. like ‘the whole nine yards’ and others.

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