Inside Stories

The Childhood My Kids Will Never Know

I am a product of the 80s and 90s. Technically a millennial, but a millennial that truly remembers life before the internet and cell phones. I often find myself comparing my upbringing to how my kids are growing up. They will never experience the simple pleasures of things like sitting in the back of a station wagon, having a roll of film developed or creating a Superstar video and taking an old-fashioned photo at Hampton Beach (anyone else?).

While I will not be lecturing my kids anytime soon on the perils of walking to and from school – uphill both ways – in a snowstorm, I’m sure they will hear MANY stories about “life in the olden days”.

Reading an actual physical book

Us 90’s kids enjoyed a childhood that wasn’t super structured. We didn’t feel the pressure or need to participate in a bunch of activities. We would play outside with the neighborhood kids for hours only popping into our houses for lunch or a bathroom break (or in my case, a popsicle). Our parents called us by simply opening the front door and yelling our names.

Our food choices included Happy Meals, kool-aid and candy cigarettes. No one brought water bottles to school – we drank a juice box at lunch and grabbed a sip of water from the bubbler. Avocados and quinoa weren’t on trend. Bring on the soda and stovetop popcorn!

TVs didn’t have streaming service or DVRs. Everything was in real-time and if you missed it, oh well! Boob tube major pleasures included TGIF, Saturday morning cartoons, watching a movie the family picked out at Blockbusters (a major feat to get everyone to agree) and playing Nintendo (on a 20″ TV). (Sidenote: Remember having to blow into the Nintendo games to get them to work?) Oh, and MTV (Music TV) actually played music and reality TV didn’t exist.

Playing Nintendo on Christmas morning (best gift ever!)

In the 90’s, listening to CDs was the norm, but we’d also had blank tapes (cassettes) on hand to record the latest songs. We would sit at our boombox and hope to be lucky enough to hit record as soon as the desired song came on. Once burning CDs came into play creating a mixed CD for a friend, significant other, party or road trip provided hours of excitement.

We had to do our shopping without Amazon or the internet. Getting the JCPenney and Sears Christmas catalogs was one of the most exciting days of the year. Going to the mall was a social event. Sometimes you’d have to drive from store to store to find what you wanted.

And let’s talk about phones… You know, the ones attached to the wall with cords? If you were fortunate to have a long cord you could walk around the room, but beware, you may also get tangled in the cord. If you called someone you were calling THEIR HOUSE, as in anyone in their home may answer it. (Man… that took guts.)

Hanging out on the beach without SPF 100 and extra layers

When portable phones came into play, it was a game changer. You could go anywhere in the house (and some places in the yard) and sneak late-night conversations (sticking the phone under your pillow if your mom walks in at midnight and you’re still chatting).  On the family answering machine, nothing was more mortifying than having a boy leave a message for the whole family to hear (gasp!).

There were things called pay phones where you could put a quarter in and dial a number (that you likely had memorized) to phone a friend or family member (and hope that they pick up).

In grade school two of the greatest joys were seeing the teacher roll in the cart with the TV on it and playing Oregon Trail on the computer. And in high school, in lieu of text messaging, we’d pass actual notes – back and forth – all day long.

We survived without cell phones, the internet, and social media, and while I use all three probably MUCH MORE than I need to, I am so happy to have gone through childhood without them. I am sure from now until my kids are out on their own, they’ll hear these stories and many more from me (insert their inevitable eye rolls). Honestly, a (big) part of me wishes that they too could experience growing up without the pressures of such a fast-moving, super-connected world.

What were some of your favorite childhood memories? Comment below and let me know!  

Bonus content, just because! Our old-fashioned photo at Hampton Beach featured me and my brother drinking and carrying weapons, yet all the rest of our professional photos were always super formal (oh the emojis I could use right now!).

18 responses to “The Childhood My Kids Will Never Know”

  1. Juli Rogers says:

    I LOVE this took me back in time on many levels.

  2. JoAnn Keegan says:

    I thought your favorite childhood memory was babysitting the Keegan children ! Lol

  3. Nancye Tuttle Tuttle says:

    Zoe is your mini-me! Great post, Danielle 💕

  4. Jennifer Carey says:

    I was well before your time and could reminisce about our family being teh first to get cable and HBO; and my brother and his friends watching Bo Dereck in “10” as my friend sand I dragged the picnic table to the back of the house and watch it through the window!!

    And if/when someone called you on the house phone…beware of a click on the other end, which meant someone in your house was on teh other end and listening to your conversation :0

    • Jen, HAHAHA I love those! HBO was such a novelty! And yes, beware of someone listening or even the three-way call when someone may trick you by not telling you there was another person on the line!

  5. Eileen DelRossi says:

    Loved reading this article!! My favorite memory was sitting backwards in the way back of our gray family station wagon. The Nintendo we all loved the Nintendo! Playing outside and our parents just telling us as kids to figure it out. We all had to learn to play together be together and we all watched out for each other developing friendships that lasted a lifetime.

  6. Bridget Roch says:

    I still remember your HOME phone number! So many memories!

  7. Kelly Rys says:

    This is awesome Danielle!!! Thanks for the trip down memory lane! 😉

  8. Kelly Ann says:

    This is GREAT!!! You brought me right back to when I was going through the same thing as a kid. Thank you for bringing back such great memories. 😁

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