Today I heard a snippet of a conversation about what kinds of things kids have today compared to what we had growing up in yesteryear. Am I really going to write a blog about "back in the day"? I sure am. My daughter would call me "Oldilocks" but c'mon..........the abundance of things created to entertain our offspring has gotten out of control.
For one thing, when I had my first daughter, the Exersaucer was not even invented. I'm not even sure it's called that anymore, but it's basically a walker without wheels. Because after a few thousand babies fell down the stairs encased in one of those bad boys, the manufacturers decided they better take the wheels off. And add six thousand plastic items to entertain the baby and overstimulate them all in one fell swoop.
We did not have Disney movies to watch whenever we wanted. We had to wait until they came out in the theaters - once a year, maybe. I was in junior high school when we first got a VCR and our first movie was "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (which cost around $40 by the way). My sister and I watched it so often that we would play a game where she was Indiana Jones and I was everyone else. We memorized the shit out of that movie.
No video games. I know, GASP! It was also during my awkward junior high years that I first played "Pong" on someone else's TV and then my mom decided to spring for the Odyssey play system for Christmas. Better graphics! Sound! Super pixelated! It was all the rage. Pac Man and Tetris had to be played on a large machine at the local skate park. Roll of quarters? Best day ever!
Hopscotch is a traditional child's game. So, of course we played it at school and at home when we could find a piece of chalk to draw one on the sidewalk (no buckets of sidewalk chalk for us - and one color only - white). But you HAD to have a Hoppy Taw. This was a rubber disk that you threw into the appropriate square on the hopscotch instead of being archaic and old and using a rock like our ancestors. A Hoppy Taw cost 50 cents at the Milk Depot.
My favorite toy was Fisher Price Little People - but before they were obese and plastic. Mine were slim cylinders made of wood with plastic heads. There was a mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, brother, sister, and baby. Oh, and a farmer. I had the house, barn, airplane, schoolhouse. It was nirvana and I played for hours, in my room, alone. I think my parents were surprised when this fourth child appeared at mealtimes. Who is she? How did she get here? I loved my Little People.
No iPads, iPods, or iAnything. We had a record player housed in a large wooden cabinet. If you wanted to play a 45 (that's a record that looks slightly larger than a CD), you had to put a plastic disk in the middle of the turntable. Otherwise, you played LPs. Later, we had cassette tape players. If you wanted a song that was playing on the radio, you had to sit by it for HOURS waiting for your song to play and then hit "record" on the tape player at JUST the right time. Super cool. Then, we had boom boxes. Kind of like an iPod but ten thousand times bigger. Some of them even played CDs! You know, those things they had before iTunes.
No Facebook. We actually had to physically be present with our friends. And if that wasn't possible we had to make a phone call (thank God for that long cord that went all the way from the phone jack in the wall to the closet so you could talk in private), or write a letter. On paper. With a pen. I KNOW! I mean, there were typewriters, but who wanted to hassle with that? I got my first "word processor" in college! COLLEGE! I didn't even have a computer until I was an adult and my first email account when my first two kids were toddlers. What the HECK?
Now, it is possible for a child to be born, stay inside their entire lives looking at a screen, and still have 456 friends. Amazing, huh?
Speaking of indoors - we had outdoors. That's the place we headed to the minute we were free from school or chores or homework and where we stayed until we needed to eat. We played Charlie's Angels, using a toy box lid as a stretcher for whomever got killed. And the hose sprayer nozzle for a gun. Yes, we played guns. ALL THE TIME! Cowboys and Indians. Crazy killers. Guns were fun! We had adventures in the woods, rambled around the neighborhood, stopping in someone's house from time to time for a glass of Kool-Aid (SUGAR! YAY!) or a Hostess Ho-Ho. We played Kick the Can until after dark. Sometimes even on a school night!
When we went camping, and I couldn't bring my Little People arsenal along, I played with sticks. Yes, sticks. The tall one was the dad, the shorter one the mom, and so forth until the baby was the smallest stick in the bunch. I was entertained for hours. With sticks.
Now? We have pretty much every Disney movie ever made. (Full disclosure: they are mostly on VHS). Everyone has an iPod. We have three iPads in the house, six laptops, a desktop computer, and three TVs. Everyone has a cell phone. I doubt my kids even know how to play hopscotch, and their pale skin speaks to the many hours they spend indoors. When we go camping, they have WiFi. Guns aren't allowed and they have probably never heard of Kick the Can.
They have all the cool stuff. Or did we?