As a Gen Xer, I so enjoy reminiscing about the freedoms we had growing up in the 70s and 80s. Our parents take on safety and acceptable ways to spend one’s time was different from the get go. Starting with baby-proofing, which in no way resembled what it is today.
In fact, I recall being given green Mr. Yuk stickers (which were basically like yellow happy face stickers that had just thrown up) to put on anything that was toxic: chemicals, cleaning supplies, etc. I remember showing my mom the stickers we’d been given at preschool and her telling me to “go for it” (yes, I was to baby-proof my own house).
So, I actively searched my house for toxins. I checked cabinets that I’d never even thought to open before, climbed on the sinks to get to all the medicines. It was like anti-baby proofing. I slapped the stickers on all my new found poisons and added one to the vegetable crisper, for good measure. Now, as a parent myself, my own parents like to tell me I’m too overprotective.
“Well, you survived,” they say.
“Yep, but it seems like the odds were against me.”
Here are a few things many of us did growing up that make me wonder how our generation survived …
1. Thinking the middle seat in the front was the best seat because you could get crushed into the dashboard … I mean, because you got to control the five radio stations.
2. Being totally inaccessible — from after school or camp until dinner. Now, we would call that being lost.
3. Having an equal intake of air: 50% oxygen, 50% secondhand smoke. 4. Thinking that SPF 4 was responsibly using sunblock.
5. Thinking the haze of Solarcaine we were engulfed in was a healthy way to heal the second-degree burns we inevitably got from using SPF 4.
6. Getting excited when someone had a pick-up truck because that meant the kids got to ride on the flatbed.
7. Sitting on Dad’s lap and manning the steering wheel.
8. Eating salami straight from the log.
9. Playing on a rusted swing set where that one leg always popped out of the ground threatening to propel itself into space and then came back with a thud.
10. Helmets? No one wore them, and if you did, you were super geeky … protecting your nerdy brain and all.
11. Being a latchkey kid. The first couple times I stayed home, I parked a chair right inside the screen door and just sat there staring out so I could see my mom pull up (also, the world could see I was alone with an open door, brilliant).
12. Fearlessly scaling fences, climbing trees, playing in the woods, and jumping streams without a parent in sight to save us (hell, we used to ride our bikes through a cemetery).
13. Running into the store to buy an adult cigarettes.
14. Nerf Shmerf — oh, we had them, but cap guns and BB guns were way more likely to shoot your eye out … we preferred them.
15. Car seats? Bahwawawahaha. My dad drove me around on the back shelf of his convertible in a Moses basket. “Oops, she was here a minute ago, must’ve hit a bump.”
16. And forget seat belts — I barely sat in the seat at all, lying across the back windshield of my mom’s Mercury Marquis, or popping up and down from the floor was way more fun.
17. Jumping on beds until they collapsed. I was once under a bed when that happened (everyone involved got punished, including me).
18. Babysitting at 11 — In my town, once you were able to dial 911, you were considered a candidate for babysitting jobs.
19. Eating unwrapped things people handed you in stores — like pretzel logs from the bank.
20. Being left in the car with the windows cracked to wait for your mom to do the grocery shopping because you didn’t feel like going in or she told you to stay because it was quicker to do it without you.
21. Running around until sundown without a care in the world, a phone in your pocket, or shoes on your feet.
And of course please share these with your Gen X friends and add the things you did back in the day that would most likely land someone in an ER, jail, therapy, or on the no play-date list — nowadays.