Pardon me for feeling a bit nostalgic today. It’s my 39th birthday. With only one more year to go before the big 40, I’ve been thinking about my youth a little more than usual. Spending a lot of time with Chloe and Sophie over the last few months has also caused increased reminiscing on my part, to be sure.
When my brother and I were children, our idea of fun was going to the playground to ride on the seesaws. I don’t think playgrounds have seesaws anymore (and if they do, it’s because the playground is scandalously outdated). In fact, I’m not even sure Chloe would know what a seesaw is if I asked her. In today’s world, where everyone is afraid of his shadow, I guess seesaws are considered too dangerous, or perhaps too prone to lawsuits.
These days, our kids have fun in other ways. No, Chloe and Sophie do not have their own laptops. One of pictured computers is the property of my husband’s employer, and the other is ours. When I was a kid, computers were something out of “The Jetsons,” and the wave of the future.
When I was about 12, I studied Computer Science in junior high school. I learned to program using BASIC, and my friend and I created a game for our final class project. Chloe enjoys searching for gems and counting her fake money on the Webkinz site. And Sophie, as witnessed by the photo above, is absorbing all of this technology with wonder, and will likely be computer literate by the time she’s 4 years old.
I don’t remember all that much from my single-digit years. As far as TV goes, I remember watching reruns of “The Flintstones” and “The Brady Bunch,” among other 1960s and 1970s classics. I also relished watching “The Electric Company” and “Zoom” on PBS. Today, my kids enjoy “Dora the Explorer” and “Hannah Montana.”
When I was a little older, my brother and I spent hours fighting over the first Atari 2600 TV console games – Adventure and Pong stand out as favorites. Today, Chloe plays Mario Bros. and Scooby Doo on her Nintendo Game Boy (or Game Girl as she likes to call it).
I rode my bike without any safety gear. Chloe rides hers while outfitted with a helmet, elbow pads, knee pads and gloves. When I was a kid, the road was our playground, literally. Today, I rarely allow Chloe to cross the street without holding my hand. I put a pogo stick on Chloe’s holiday gift wishlist. No one wanted to buy it for her out of fear that she’d hurt herself with it. But nobody hesitated to give me one when I was her age. I distinctly remember bouncing around with it on our driveway. And I survived.
To entertain ourselves and our family, my brother and I performed to “Really Rosie” and “Free to Be You and Me.” Chloe and Sophie sing and shake their little booties to “High School Musical” (video to follow in a future posting) and Disney radio.
We went to pizza parlors, McDonalds and Burger King for friends’ birthday parties. For one of my brother’s special days, my dad entertained our friends dressed as a clown. Chloe gets invited to birthday parties at exotic venues like Medieval Times or tween clothing stores, where the girls dress up, don makeup and walk down the “runway.” Dads don’t dress as clowns anymore (at least, not any dads I know). And she’s never been invited to a birthday party at the local pizzeria.
Much of this, but not all of it, is for the best, I think. Yet, all of these changes make me feel old, and even a little sad. Face it – our kids must think we’re ancient. I know I thought my parents were ancient when I was 6 years old. In that one respect, I suppose, times haven’t changed much at all.