There’s no denying life in the 21st century is better than it was in the 20th in many ways. We have Keurig machines! The internet! Netflix!
And yet, it often feels like we’ve lost something, doesn’t it?
1. Nowadays, apparently its too dangerous to play Red Rover.
You think thats bad? When I was a kid we played this game called Monks.
The field was set up a bit like football, with the endzones being “safe”. One person was the “Head Monk” and had to tag kids running from safe zone to safe zone, which you can only stay on for 10 seconds. If he tags you, you go on his team and have to help him to be able to tag more kids.
This usually meant tackling and pinning someone down until Head Monk got to him. Mind you we played this in parking lots.
2. Remember how they used to let you go chill in the cockpit of an airplane if you just asked? Good times.
3. A male adult could interact with a kid without everybody thinking it’s creepy or a parent freaking out.
4. Taking a butter knife to school to finish putting my sandwich together and not having the SWAT team called.
5. Me, my brother, and my dad were once at the park. When it was time to go, my brother hopped on the hood of the truck and yelled that he wasn’t ready to go yet.
So my dad started up the truck, and drove the 10 blocks back to our house with my brother on the hood. I begged to go next, but he wouldn’t let me.
6. Candy cigarettes. Please tell me I’m not only one who remembers these.
7. Went out to play knowing that I just needed to be back home by the time the street lights came on. Parents just knew I was somewhere in the neighborhood. Nobody worried. Never got snatched.
8. Getting to the airport fifteen minutes before your flight instead of four hours early. There were no security lines or strange restrictions on what you could bring. What a time to be alive.
9. Riding in the back of a pickup, staying by myself when I was about 8, getting my first pocket knife at 5, spending all day running around in the woods by myself.
10. My friends and I would bike to O’hare International Airport, ditch our bikes in the forest, walk through security, go to the gates and wait for the pilots to show up.
We would ask them all sorts of questions that would probably be restricted information now. Then they would show us their planes, paperwork, routes they would take, tell us stories and whatnot.
When I have kids, they will probably think I’m making up a horsecrap story.
11. There were no seatbelts in the back seats of cars back in the day. Sometimes kids would lay up in the back window on car rides. You could stretch out and do whatever you liked.
12. This will instantly tick everyone off: apparently, kids are no longer allowed to wear t-shirts with Transformers on them.
I was an assistant teacher and had to give a kid detention because, according to the Vice-Principal, the arm of the Transformer on his t-shirt also functioned as a gun in the movie (which no normal person would really even think about, because it’s a stupid fictional robot!)
No joke. It was some insane zero-tolerance policy bull. They explained that they were afraid he might go around the classroom pretending to shoot people because of the character on his shirt. I was not a happy assistant after that fact.
13. Actually knowing friends phone numbers by heart.
14. Getting reprimanded by adults that weren’t your parents or your relatives used to be a lot more common. Nowadays, if you scream at a random kid for doing something wrong, people think you’re a maniac.
In fact, they banned it the year after I graduated elementary school. A shame, really.
16. Swearing (or even just mild adult themes) in kids movies.
Check out The Goonies, or any other good kids movie from the 80s. Not nearly as watered-down and squeamish as the pulp they churn out now.
These days the censorship is so f****** intense, and things have to be so completely whitewashed it’s not worth watching. Because G** forbid we should offend one single person.
17. When I was 13, I could walk from Canada into the US and back alone, with a plain ID (think driver’s license), and the border guards barely gave me a second glance.
And before someone says “September 11 changed everything!” this was in 2003.
18. My father called them “Road Beers”.
The cooler he kept on the front seat of the station wagon full of cold ones to drink as we sat out in traffic every summer without A/C. Admittedly, outlawing this might have been a good change.
19. When I had a toothache as a kid, my dad would have me rub whiskey on my gums. These days, that’s probably child abuse.
20. My dad taught me to drive when I was 13, I always drove to bring him back from the bar if he had too much to drink.
21. When my daughter was in second grade her school was two blocks from our place. She rode there on her own, on a bike path. We got a visit from concerned neighbours, and even from the school administration.
We told them that we figured she could figure out how to travel two blocks safely. After all, when we were kids, we went way further than that without supervision.
The fact that they thought any of this was their business was pathetic.
22. Back in the day, our high school had a shooting club. We all brought our rifles and shotguns to school. If we didn’t leave them in our cars, we left them in the teachers room or Principal’s office. Over lunch we’d run to the hardware store and buy ammo, keep the boxes in our lockers.
They trusted us to behave like adults, and we did.
At my son’s high school, two seniors were suspended for a month because they had two shotgun shells on the floor of their truck after they had gone hunting early that same morning.
23. I was a very smart and cocky 15 year old, and I thought I was the greatest thing to ever happen to planet Earth.
So one day I was mouthing off to my mom, and old dad overheard. Well, he interjected with a quick, “shut the hell up.”
I kept it up, so my dad grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the room. I made the fatal mistake of swinging a fist at my old man. He quickly weaved out of the way and kicked my feet from under me and I landed on my back.
With the wind knocked out of me and fighting back a few tears, he imparted some wisdom on me: “Listen son, I dont care how big you get… there is always someone bigger.
Nowadays, hed be put in jail for doing that, but you know what? I deserved it.
24. Only twenty years ago, when I was in high school, the concept of gay marriage (or gay people, for that matter) was utterly alien and strange – and I lived in a wealthy, cosmopolitan area. Now gay marriage is recognized in my state.
Also, I remember taking a school trip to Six Flags in Atlanta and there was a “Confederacy” section with Civil War themed rides, and a restaurant named “Plantation Chicken” where servers were exclusively African-American.
I mean, I like nostalgia as much as the next guy, but there have definitely been some positive changes over the last couple decades.
25. Elementary school kids would wait at the bus stop with no parents there to supervise.
26. I remember my teachers calling me out on the crap I tried to pull with them, taking away marks when I was late with an assignment, and generally challenging me to try harder without being concerned with how it might affect my self-esteem.
As someone who is a teacher, I realize that a lot of this has changed in favor of the “coddle the student” approach, and I worry.
I teach college-level accounting and have come across incredible entitlement in certain students. Poor attendance, poor grades, then requests for extra credit at the end of the term.
When I say no a flipout ensues. You had 16 weeks to do work, don’t wait until finals week! Obviously the ‘extra credit’ system is rampant throughout schools for them to expect this all the time.
27. When I was really young I could run around naked and people would think it was cute. When I do that now, I just get arrested.
28. Red Rover, Red Rover Send a dislocated shoulder on over.
29. Being able to run around on the playground with your ‘pretend gun’ (aka your thumb/finger) and ‘shoot’ your fellow classmates.
30. Playing outside and climbing trees and generally wandering far and wide.
Suggest that to kids now a days and they’re amazed that I could entertain myself without a computer.
31. Playing with “jarts,” or lawn darts.
32. I received a .22 caliber rifle when I was 10. No one ever questioned selling me ammunition or seeing me walking along a road, blazing away at everything in sight.
When I was 7, my mother gave me a note to buy a carton of cigarettes for her. No one ever asked for the note. They just sold me the cigarettes. I bought cigarettes for her until I turned 18. I still had the note in my wallet.
33. Smoking on airplanes. along with Steak knives provided with meal. Glasses made of glass. Being served real food in economy! Even on short domestic flights.
34. Kids didnt wear helmets and protective gear for riding bikes or skateboards, unless they were doing some extreme stuff on said bike or skateboard.
35. Spanking your kids. Seriously, when I was a kid, if I was being a troublemaker, I got the wooden spoon a couple times on the rear, if I was REALLY bad I got the belt from dad when he got home.
36. When I was in high school, we used to have “Slave Day” where students would put themselves up for auction to be a slave for a day to another student or faculty member. One Black student was bought by a teacher, and had to put her clothes on backwards, and wear a sign that read, “I love my master!”
At the time, we really didnt think much of it. But can you imagine the outcry if something like that happened today?!
37. I carried a knife to school. I was a boy scout, I carried one everywhere.
Friends would regularly ride their bikes to my house with a shotgun on their back.
38. Playing football with a concussion. I’m pretty young so its weird to see how quickly things have changed. It use to be like playing with a bruised hip, you just kept going.
I guess someone realized that significant head injury may impact your health going forward…
39. Going barefoot nearly everywhere. When I would play outside with my friends during the summer I’d almost never wear shoes. And if I was on a road trip with my parents and we stopped at a gas station, I’d almost never put my shoes on to go outside.
40. Bullying was just accepted as part of high school life. There was the cool kids, then there was the nerds. Now it seems schools have a more hardline stance towards bullying. Thank goodness.