When I was Your Age or The Evolution of Childhood

Written by Emily

Childhood has changed. It’s morphed into something I don’t even recognize–apart from the sibling torment. As a result, I’ve started cataloguing the vast differences that have come about in the few short years since I’ve been a child. When I sit down to talk to my kids about how easy they had or have it, I don’t want to be lame and turn to the stand-by cliche: “When I was your age I walked to school uphill both ways in a foot of snow” (even though I’m sure I did at some point). We’ve got our own.

Here’s a sampling of what I’ve got stored away…

The next time my son is grotesquely inconvenienced by seeds in his watermelon, gasping in horror and wondering how he’s going to navigate the fruit. I’ll say:

“I survived on watermelon seeds alone.” Ok, not true. But I’ll add, “I rivaled a sharp shooter with my spitting accuracy. I could do serious damage to you with those seeds on your plate. Be happy I love you.”

When my children argue with me because they’re 15 years old and still in 5-point harnesses (Sylvie, the petite thing that she is, will still be rear-facing). I’ll respond:

“If you ask my dad, he strapped me to the top of the car if we needed room for the groceries. You’re lucky I’m still alive and here to mother you with such care.”

The next time my kids covet their friends’ fleet of mini motorized Jeeps and SUVs to cruise the neighborhood. I’ll remind them:

“A certain man in your life rode a pale blue hand-me-down bike from his sister. It had a banana seat and streamers on the handles. He was grateful for it.”

If my littles catch wind of something called a wipe warmer. A wipe warmer! To warm wipes for their delicate bottoms, I’ll arrogantly retort:

“My mom kept an old washcloth in a plastic bag in her purse. She reused it again and again and again. Cold and crusty from multiple wipings? Good for another use.”

When my children not only want ice cream, but they want it from a particular establishment like Dairy Queen or one of the fancy yogurt joints, I’ll tell them:

“I have very-real memories of putting chocolate syrup on snow and calling it a sundae.”

If they even moan once that there is “nothing to watch” on the 396 kids’ channels in high definition, I will remind them:

“Your dad had two and a half channels at home. The half channel only came in when the weather was just right. The rest of the time is was snow.”

Should my daughter write “house in Hamptons” on her Christmas list, or even an iPad, I will gladly announce,

“You’ll get nothing and like it!” (thank you, Caddyshack). And then I’ll let her know that “a Cabbage Patch Kid was a big gift when I was a little girl” and “If you whine for even a second, paper and a pencil will be the only iPad you know for the rest of your days.”

If my cherubs ever drag their feet about getting into their parents’ car for school, I will politely share,

“I rode the bus with boys who passed gas and tried to scoop it with their hats and toss it at the girls. It worked, but I still had to ride. And when the bus dropped me off at the bottom of the hill, I had to walk to the top wearing my Great Aunt’s size 8 shoes. I wear a size 10.” Nevermind that I chose to wear those. Nevermind that.

And when my son frets about taking tests to prepare for high-stakes tests, I’ll agree and then comfort him with

“When I was your age we took art class and ate glue. I narrowly escaped shop class with all of my fingers. It was a dangerous time.”

What about you? What changes have you noticed since you were young? What will you tell your children to convince them you’re a superhero and they’re just wimps?

Here’s a handy pocket guide in case you lose your train of thought when the time comes:


Categories: Emily

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9 replies

  1. Those are great! I am always amazed at what new mothers and kids have now that not only weren’t around when I was young, but even from 15 years ago when I had my son! One of the most frequent things that pops out of my mouth is “what?? you have what for that baby?” LOL

  2. Next time I’m with my sisters or Dad’s I’m going to bring up this topic! I’m sure we will be able to add to the list! Just yesterday one of the aunts remarked that her kids cannot live without air conditioning. We were lucky to have fans that pushed more air than puckered lips!

  3. Cathy– I’m with you….air conditioning — thought it was a type of hair conditioner. We had a hassock fan that we thought was high tech or a fan that had no cover on the blades which would not pass muster in today’s world.

  4. Ah for the good old days — no A/C, no summer camps, no sunscreen, no play dates, no DVDs, no ipods, no computers, no cell phones, no texting, no email, no i-anything or e-anything unless it was irritating and enervating. Nope, don’t miss those days for a second.

  5. I especially like the snow cream sundae 🙂


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