A Childhood of The 70’s Versus Today. Are We Just Lucky We Survived Our Youth or Have Our Kids Really Missed Out On Something Wonderful?
I’ve been spending some vacation time with my grownup-ish children this summer. As I’ve been watching them interact with others of their youthful tribe in their exuberant self-centred adolescent bubble it has had me feel…well…nostalgic.
I was a child of the 70’s and although not a perfect decade…it made it easy to be a kid.
As I reminisced I wondered, did my kids missed out on a better childhood? Let’s throw this back.
A Childhood Of The 70’s ~ What Do You Remember?
A 70’s summer weekend might consist of a family drive to Blockbuster by way of Baskin Robbins.
Dad would pay the mysterious, outstanding VHS late fees that no one could account for, we’d try and convince my parents to rent Jaws (big no) and when that failed we all gathered to watch Young Frankenstein.
We listened to my father’s 8 tracks of New Seekers (no idea who they were but they were always playing) or Neil Diamond. No one was arguing who’s Spotify playlist we would be listening to (here’s a hint…it was never mine).
Family car wash on a warm Sunday afternoon of the old Buick Wildcat was a legit fun activity. You know the car… the one without seatbelts.
My makeup regime consisted of exactly two items, tinted Clearasil and a Dr Pepper flavoured Lipsmacker.
My large Barbie Styling Head had more makeup options than I did. I had only one bathing suit that I needed to hang and dry after running through the sprinkler or I’d be climbing into it wet the next day.
Back to school shopping included David Cassidy spiral notebooks…
Scratch and Sniff stickers, retractable 6 colour pen and a new pair of Buster Brown shoes…which I was excited about.
We had penpals, we wrote and saved letters.
If you wanted to speak to someone you either picked up the rotary phone or you went over. You did not hide behind Instagram, texts or project to everyone how perfect you and your life are on Facebook. Guess what…everyone has their shit…it just never photographs well.
We were super lucky we did most of our idiotic crap before the internet.
No fear of someone recording us and seconds later uploading and sharing to “friends" that are now called “followers”.
Technology…or lack thereof
A Close n’ Play Record Player. My first 45 record, “Billy Don’t Be A Hero”, by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods.
The magical 60 seconds of anticipation while shaking a Polaroid photograph.
A Panasonic AM/FM wrist radio
We all wanted to be part of this family. Although it did set an impossible standard for blended families.
Full disclosure. There were toys that for sure I hurt myself using. My Easy-Bake Oven, Shrinky-Dinks or my wood burning kit…to name a few. But never once did my parents think about suing the manufacture. The only “user warning” was Christina, next time be more careful.
We all had a Pet Rock, a Yoyo, a Slip n’ Slide, Spirograph, a Hula Hoop, Sea Monkeys, a Chia Pet, a Ball & Jacks and a bag full of marbles.
A mood ring to tell us how we were feeling and Silly Putty for lifting the Family Circus images off the Saturday comics. A Slinky climbing down the stairs, Play-Doh, Connect Four, Lite Brite, Operation, Clackers (something I would also hurt myself with…and again, no lawsuit) , Beautiful Crissy with hair that grows and a vast variety of board games and puzzles.
Let’s start with Kool-Aid and Tang. A powdered sugar drink that if it was good enough for the astronauts it was good enough for you. Fruit-Loops, Cap’n Crunch and Pop Tarts. Cheese Whiz, Kraft Dinner and for a real treat so mom didn’t have to cook a Swanson TV Dinner.
This was an totally expectable lunch, right down to the Wonderbread
No one was Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Fat-Free, Dairy-Free, GMO-Free
I am not saying our diets have not been improved upon but we as a generation had a much lower obesity level than kids today plus we could bring a peanut butter and jam sandwich to lunch in your Monkees’ lunchbox and no one was in fear of dying.
We pretended to smoke bubblegum cigars, chocolate cigars and Popeye Cigarettes and NEVER once did it lure me into smoking for real.
There were liquorice whips, Sweet-Tarts, Pixy Stix, candy necklaces, cherry Lolas, Jaw-breakers, Fun-Dip, Pop Rocks, Bottle Caps…all nothing but pure sugar and I am not overweight OR diabetic.
We were fearlessly climbing trees, jumping off fences, exploring, trespassing and making secret hideouts in dubiously constructed tree houses or in a wooded area nearby. We could play out of sight for hours, our parents had no idea where we were or no way of “tracking” the cell phone you didn’t have. All we all needed to know was you were to be home when the street lights came on.
Not everyone got a ribbon for just participating in track and field. There were winners and losers…and we dealt with it.
There were no “playdates’, we just played. Red Rover, Spud, Hop Scotch, Hide and Go Seek and Tag…all with the kids who lived no more than a few houses away.
At any given time you knew someone in a cast and their collection of signatures made you want one too.
Parents weren’t judged for not protecting their kids. We were kids, we were resilient and we will learn from our mistakes.
Child proofing your home meant moving the ashtray off the coffee table
Self harm was something that happened to you when you fell off your banana seat bike.
Google was called Encyclopedias
The grammar lessons I remembered most I learned from TV’s animated School House Rocks. “Conjunction junction, what’s your function”?
…and this was the 70’s version of Netflix.
I am not saying that our parents got everything right back in that decade, hell no. I am sure that bath time with Mr Bubble was the cause of my sister Jennifer’s mysterious skin rash, but I do think generally speaking this new generation suffers from more anxiety than we did….and we as parents are also more anxious. More weight issues, more body issues and a whole lot less time outside. Hmmm?
So as I reflect, I ask you “children of the 70’s” what you fondly remember that you wished your kids had experienced from your youth?
We survived! No helmets, no cellphones, no seatbelts and our pregnant mothers smoking and drinking. Are our kids better off than we were? I can’t say for certain I just know that I would not have given up my 70’s childhood for all the likes on Facebook.