For all the latchkey kids, the cynics, and the slackers.
I read this with a bit of a lump in my throat, Jenna...I too find myself worrying that our kids have lost some kind of innocence over the past few years. I have an almost 17 year old and a 24 year old, and the time when they should have been really carefree has been lost, I think. I also wouldn't want to be without some of the gains of technology either, but I do worry that our kids live in a constant state of being 'on'. Even watching a TV series takes a couple of nights rather than the anticipation of waiting each week for the next episode! We often joke with our kids that we were left to fend for ourselves and summer holidays were basically made up of riding our bikes (without helmets!) to the local shop for an ice-pop!
We really were a lucky generation this way. The weight of collective watching is spot on.
I love knowing how important music was to you! Especially knowing you explored sound early in your career, and that it resonates still.
I can relate to so much of this. The water bottle thing is hilarious, I'm always telling my kids that when I was a kid no one needed to carry water with them all the time, it wasn't a thing. Something I notice with my kids is that if they are going to do something new, they want information about that thing ahead of time--like if it's a park, they want to see a photo or if it's a restaurant they want to hear the menu. My son gets obsessed with the GPS in the car, checking the time and wanting to know how long things will take. I don't have the same impulse toward information-gathering, maybe because it wasn't an option when I was a kid. You would just wait and see. It feels like a big generation gap.
Love this article so much! I actually did drink a fair amount of water (straight from the tap, or the hose if we were playing outside), but we did have plenty of juice made from those cardboard cans of frozen concentrate. Yum. I was just visiting my folks at their house, and I still drink water from the tap, even though they have plenty of bottled water now. Old habits I guess.
I also remember sitting in my high school government class watching the space shuttle on the tv that was wheeled in on the cart. And I also do not remember much after it happened, except it was the first time I had seen one of my teachers in tears. :(
i'm writing this as my kids are kind of trapped inside our apartment because of wildfire smoke. Oof, I feel all of these feelings. I was just talking with my youngest about not having a phone, having to go home to find out if someone called you. We have been joking around these parts about having a Gen-X meal day: Starts with Cap'n Crunch or something similar, baloney sandwich for lunch with those colored water drinks that were kind of waxy, slurpee and skittles for a snack (that you bought yourself on the way home from school) and then a tv dinner or chef boyardee? I think the kids would vomit.
As usual, you have touched a nerve. I am grateful for all of my childhood hijinks, even as I wish now someone would have paid me some mind.
'The last generation allowed to be just kids'. And still wondering everyday: what do you want to become when you grow up? ;-)
Ahh so true. I am very often nostalgic for the 90s. I know it wasn’t all great but there is a lot that seems better back then than now. I fear the technology and distraction we have now. And I’m a fully grown adult! So it’s mad to think how children are going to be. Great piece though, loved reading it.
I was born in 1989, so not Gen X but I grew up always playing outdoors with my cousins and the neighbor’s kids, and whoever was there at time (so carefree! where were the parents? haha) - we’d ride our bikes as far as we liked, foraged and built slides in the sand hills. I remember farm animals being allowed to roam free as well. Scary to think of today. My kids (5 and 1) will never be able to experience that. Lovely post, thank you for the nostalgia. x
Even though I started to use a basic flip phone since middle school, I still call myself lucky to have spent most of my free time with my friends back then face to face and with the occasional thrill of texting each other when we were not together.
I still remember falling asleep while listening to kids' stories on cassette tapes that my mom set up for me and having to flip the it to the other side when I was already half asleep. Those days feel golden and pure now.
"Summers were boring because we didn't have any expectations to impress anyone with how we spent our time outside of school. Our days were largely unscheduled and we didn’t worry about being pointy or well-rounded or published authors or founders of companies at age 16. We were just kids, and that was enough to get you into college." Yes, yes, and yes.
Thank you for sharing your story, Jenna. I always learn so much from your writing and prose.
Thank you for this trip down memory lane Jenna, I do think we benefited from not having access to so much as our fingertips. I for one am grateful that there was no social media as there are some things that I definitely wouldn't have wanted shared around! What about taping the charts off the radio???
Everything about this post is spot on. I too feel grateful for being a Gen X kid. What a time it was. Thank you for sharing! You know I love a dip in nostalgia.