Crazy story. One of my daughter’s friends is kinda perturbed she has two arms and isn’t more like star surfer girl Bethany Hamilton, who so awesomely rocks just the one. After learning about this desire during the most disturbing game of make-believe ever, I was inspired to examine the insanely painful things kids want — or think they want — just because they seem cool. Maybe her wish to have something that seems really awful isn’t so rare.
Sure, that’s an extreme example, but we never really considered the downside of all those totally “rad” things we longed for as Generation X kids, like braces or crutches or (name that thing), did we? How many painful afflictions, experiences, or medical devices did you want growing up? The crazier question may be, “How many do your kids want even now?
1. Braces or a retainer: In my day (let’s call “my day” the ’80s), these two items were a major score. We were so obsessed with mouth hardware that we would flatten a paperclip or those wax bottle candies and mold them to our teeth — only to spend the rest of the day talking with an unintelligible lisp. Plus you can’t forget all the awesome braces accouterments, like that waxy stuff and those cool rubber bands that held your face together … maybe even headgear? My daughter gets an “expander” next week. She can’t wait!
2. A cast: A cast was really a big step up from a sling or a bandage or one of those ugly Velcro shoes. Yes, a cast was way cool. Why? Because people could sign it, duh. Yep, a cast even put a yearbook to shame because you got to be the only one who was getting signatures. Sure, you had to break a bone to get one, but that somehow seemed like a small price to pay. Having broken a thing or two since, the cast has lost its luster.
3. Crutches: Don’t lie — there was always that tinge of excitement when someone fitted you with an Ace bandage on the lower portion of your body in the hopes that crutches might be offered next. There was something really empowering about needing crutches. Maybe it was the automatic sympathy, maybe it just seemed cool to walk with them. Whatever it was, it’s still alive and kicking … ahem, limping. My son was given a set two weeks ago, and though he could’ve run a mile, he milked those puppies for days.
4. Glasses: What self-respecting kid didn’t want to find out they were just near-sighted enough to require some specs? Of course, we never realized our parents weren’t going to buy us the trendy pair we so desired. The ones that would make us look smart, yet mysterious, like a sexy librarian. When I showed up on the first day of second grade in my red translucent frames, I was shocked to find they didn’t make me cooler, like I thought they would. Damn you, Sally Jesse! PS: My daughter wants glasses badly enough that I pop the frames out of my old pairs so she can wear them to the mall.
5. Boobs: Sure, boobs aren’t a bad thing, but at 12 years old, they’re no blessing. And that’s when we all started wanting them. The girls with boobs got lots of attention (unbeknownst to us flat-chested chicks, they also felt uncomfortable in their own bodies and would end up with lower back problems). I was a shameful member of the IBTC (Itty Bitty Titty Committee). I did my daily boob/arm squeezes starting at age 11, and I’m still doing them today (to NO avail). You remember the song, right?
We must, we must, we must increase our bust.
The bigger the better.
The tighter the sweater.
The boys are counting on us …
6. A sling: Clearly, a sling couldn’t hold a candle to a cast, but it was a less painful, way less permanent option. Let’s face it, you could get some good sympathy out of a sling without having to do more than pull a muscle. Looking back, I should have worn them more.
7. A razor: Nope, not an ailment or medical equipment, but the tool for an annoying ritual called shaving that we would have to continue for the rest of our lives … and we couldn’t wait to start. I recall it being the absolute biggest deal when I defied my mother and went “above the knee,” an area she swore wouldn’t need to be smoothly shaven unless I planned on stripping. Well, I never resorted to that, but I am thankful I eventually charted that territory.
8. Your period: How badly did we want it? We were unwittingly begging to be miserable for roughly a week a month, beckoning the headaches, backaches, and stomachaches that would send us to the school nurse in our comfy sweats, only to be given a heating pad or, worse, a hot water bottle. We had no idea what we were asking for. We thought it was all fun with pads and tampons and those coin machines in the ladies’ room where you got a “prize” for a quarter or so. Until reality set in.
Did you want any of these things or others when you were young? Do your kids want any now?