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Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Things Kids Won't Experience Today


Kids today don't know how easy they have it or what they're missing, right?!? I wanted to create a list of things that today's generation (the ages of teenage down to babies), experience different than I did in my generation.


  • Using a phone book to look up phone numbers. We just Google it now!
  • Vinyl records, 8 track tapes, cassette tapes, even CDs. It's all digital now.
  • Gigantic stereo systems with the huge speakers we used to drool over in the 1970's! Again, it's all digital and you can get a great sound from tiny speakers, wow!
  • Transistor radios. Radios also started out as big as furniture pieces back when they used glass tubes. When transistor radios came out in my generation, you could have smaller radios, even handsize transistor radios. But the reception often wasn't very good. Not nearly the quality of digital, satellite radios, Pandora, etc.
  • Dialing a landline telephone. We went to button phones, remote phones and now to cell phones. I remember about 15 yrs ago, my sister's daughter had a friend over and she had to ask my sister how to operate a real "dialing" telephone!
  • Party line telephone. Yes, you had to pay extra to get a private line. Party lines meant there were others on your street who shared the same telephone line and you had to wait in line to make a call if you picked up the phone and heard your neighbor talking.
  • Black and white TV, with the tin foil on the antennae to try to get a better signal. Three channels if you were lucky. And to change channels you turned a dial on the set... no buttons, no remote. You could adjust the vertical lines and snow with twist buttons on the set. And for some reason, if a human being held the ends of the antennae, the picture came in best of all. So when reception was really bad, you would stand and hold the antennae if something was important enough.
  • Huge TVs. Yes, we have huge flat screens today, but I mean the huge sets that were the size of a washer/dryer pair! We thought we were so uptown to finally get a "big screen" TV in the 1990's but it took up as much space as a loveseat because of the technology. Before that were the TV consoles. They looked like a wooden piece of furniture but had a TV built in. My Granddaddy had these and was the first one in the family to have a color TV. In fact, the first one in our family to have TV at all when his kids were in high school. Anyway, we don't even need the "entertainment centers" that we had because of the wonderful flat screen TVs we have today. Thrift stores are full of entertainment centers people are ridding themselves of. I think they are great for other purposes like a wardrobe, pantry, etc. But we don't need them for the big ole tube televisions any more.
  • Metal playground equipment. I remember having two metal slides, one short for the younger children and one long for the older children. Boy, they got hot when the sun hit them! The jungle gyms were heavy duty metal pipes, the metal merry-go-round that took all your strength to turn it, especially full of children, and could make you dizzy as a by George. Then there were the metal seesaws and the huge metal swing sets with swings. Now, children's playground equipment is much safer and much easier to use being in plastic and wood with crushed rubber mulch to prevent skinned knees. With all the configurations and fun things they do today, we would have thought we'd died and gone to heaven. Our sand boxes would be uncovered and full of spiders, cat poop or bugs while today they have covered activity boxes for water play and sand play (and shaving cream play and gel play, etc). Tire swings were popular but you ran the risk of spiders and snakes in them, not counting that they were uncomfortable.
  • Making your own soap for bubbles. It's so cheap now. There is no reason to make it yourself and there are now all kinds of bubble devices and toys. We only got bubbles when Mom had time to make it and that was pretty rare. Plus we had to buy the plastic bubble blower so if you had lost it, too bad. Bubbles were rare.
  • Real chalkboards, chalk and cleaning the erasers. Yes, we have marker boards. But I remember the real slate chalkboards. In fact, I once knew a man who salvaged real blackboards from an old school being demolished. He used the slate blackboards to make flooring for his house! We do use real chalk today but I remember the copious amounts of chalk dust generated by schoolroom chalkboards and how the erasers had to be cleaned daily. It was always some poor child's job to take erasers outside and beat them together to get rid of the chalk dust. They would come in liberally covered themselves. That's why I don't get real excited about doing too much chalkboard painting in my house. I don't want to deal with the dust. And, now you can get chalk pens. Our teachers had chalk holders to be able to use a stick of chalk down to the nub. You could start out without the holder, but just like a pencil, as it is used, it gets shorter and shorter so you resorted to a chalk holder to be able to use as much of the chalk stick as possible.
  • Mimeograph. Remember the chemical smell? Wonder if it caused cancer? LOL! Today, teachers have state of the art copiers, scanners, digital, plenty of paper and capabilities of colored printing. As children get older, schools are trying to go more and more digital to save on paper. I know in college, you can submit papers on thumb drives, emailed or on private teacher/student web sites. Great idea but it means our kids will need typing skills more and less handwriting skill (hence why many schools may discontinue teaching cursive writing, to me a mistake). In my day, teachers had to use paper wisely. When I first started school, teachers wrote more on the blackboard and we copied in our notebooks. As I aged, teachers relied more on mimeograph printing. And, in high school, more teachers were using overhead projectors versus the blackboards. Now, I would assume they use a lot of video, digital, Powerpoint presentations, etc.
  • Film strips. I hated coming back from lunch, being full and sleepy, only to see the film projector out. Some kids liked it because they could sneak in a nap, but I struggled so hard to stay awake to learn that it made me miserable. I mean, turning off the light and hearing the teacher's voice droning lulled anyone to sleep. We got some videos later in my school career, but film strips were high technology until sometime in my junior high years. Then reel-to-reel videos were the high tech solution.
  • Riding in the back of a pickup truck. My parents realized this could be dangerous so we were admonished never to stand up, even on our knees, and they didn't allow it very often. But there were a few times that are particularly memorable. Riding in the back of the pickup truck down a country road and smelling honeysuckle in the sun. Another time was piling a bunch of teenagers in the back of the pickup truck and being taken to our high school's football game. And then piling in one to go to drive in movie. It was pay-by-the-carload so it was cheaper than paying a quarter each to go to an indoor theater.
  • Playing in the car on a trip. Yep, back then you didn't have to ride in a child seat. Don't get me wrong, I know they save lives and I know it's an absolute safety necessity. But I worry about how it will affect children who grow up being held in bondage in those child seats. My parents had a station wagon and the seats would lay down so we could play in the back and take naps. I can't imagine being held so tightly in those seats. Fortunately they experience it from infancy so they are used to it. But what about claustrophobia? Will it create more adults with claustrophobia or less? Interesting question. I know, even though I got full run of the car growing up, I still hate road trips. I can't stand being encased in a car for long periods. Over an hour and I begin whining. I begin to hurt and get antsy and it becomes mental and physical anguish. But when I think about a child having to sit still, trussed in those confining car seats, I really feel sorry for them. I wish there was some way to give us all the safety and yet, freedom of movement we need for long trips.
  • Paper maps. I remember so well how the parent in the passenger seat had to unfold the map, keep a finger on the spot and call out directions. Of course, that was better than the old days when you didn't have maps at all. Imagine the pioneers who usually followed animal and Indian trails to remote spots. Surveying was done based on landmarks (so many degrees south of the large oak tree at the corner of John Smith's land or so many degrees north of the apple tree in the crook of the Whatsit Creek). But I remember the road maps my Mom and Dad used. You stopped at each state and bought the current state map. Old paper maps would go obsolete. Ten to twenty years ago, you bought map atlases at Walmart. A book with each state represented and the large cities within that state. For survivalists, it might be good to keep an old fashioned road atlas and get them updated every few years and keep that in your survivalist gear. But, for the rest of us, we rely heavily on our smart phones, gps devices, satellites.
  • Toys that do NOT need batteries. Yes, we grew up with toys that didn't make noises, drive itself, talk or otherwise need batteries. Thumbelina dolls had a windup knob that allowed her to make baby sounds or speak. My middle sister got a Thumbelina doll one Christmas. Getting a doll that blinked based on gravity was about as high tech a toy as I got until grammar school when I got a kid's microscope.
  • Having one toy box to hold the toys for all of us. There were 3 children, 3 girls, and our toys could have fit in one toy box until grammar school. We used our imagination and shared and played together. When I see today's kids, I see they each have their own room and it's full to overflowing with toys. You can't even walk in their room because there are so many toys. And they fight over who is playing with who's toy. They don't have to learn how to cooperate, work together for the common fun, or share, because they have their own everything! I'm not fussing, because I would have thought I'd died and gone to heaven if I had my own room with that many toys and clothes that were all my own. But, the flip side is not learning how to get along and play together or getting so spoiled or lacking imagination. This doesn't happen to all children. But it's something to watch for. And my sisters and I did not grow up "poor" or without. It was just that our culture, at the time, didn't have that kind of excess. My Dad was an engineer and had solid jobs and did well for his time. We lived in a solid, new middle class neighborhood after we moved to Spartanburg. My parents had 2 cars although Dad's was always an old truck. Anyway, my point was you could count our toys because we didn't have innumerable toys. Putting away our toys wasn't a horrible chore because we didn't have that many. Christmas, we would go through the Sears and Roebuck catalog and drool, making lists in our heads as to what toys we would love to get for Christmas. But we never felt disappointed when we didn't get everything on our lists. We didn't expect to get our every desire. Our parents didn't go into debt to give us everything on our list. We usually got one nicer gift like a doll or a Barbie and then smaller gifts. The year my parents were particularly stressed financially was the year we moved to Spartanburg. They had not sold their house in TN and, yet, had bought the house in Sptbg. So they were making 2 house payments that year. Mom made us Barbie clothes out of scraps and Dad made us bulletin boards for our rooms. That was our Santa gifts and I don't remember feeling anything but happy and excited. In fact, I still have my only Barbie doll and the clothes Mother made.
  • Reading and rereading the same books. I may be wrong, kids do have favorite books, and toddlers want them re-read every night. That's normal. But, when I got old enough to read, I had a limit of books. My parents couldn't buy books for me every week and couldn't always afford the time or gas to take us to the library every week. During the winter, I used the school library extensively until I read everything of interest to me in the school library. During the summer, I did the same in the public library. You could check out books for 2 weeks and Mom would take me every two weeks and I would check out as many as I was allowed. I read every children's mystery book in the children's section and then some. I was hooked on Nancy Drew mystery books but I had a limit to how many I could have because they couldn't afford them. One day Mom found a box full of old ones at a junk store and she bought the box for next to nothing. I still remember how luxurious it felt to have all those books. I still re-read them every 10 years or so and, yes, I still have them. They brought me hours of happy reading. Mom had some adult mysteries like Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart, etc. When I got old enough to read them, I read and re-read them. You could put all our novels in one small bookshelf. My parents paid $25 for a small bookshelf for me when I was about 10 years old. I still have it. That held all the novels we shared including Mom's. Dad always bought National Geographic magazine and picture books to give us a world view and we loved them too. Those books filled another small bookshelf. Kids today have tons of books available to them whether it's at home, digitally or at libraries. There is no end to what they can read and, yet, I wonder if they don't read less than we did? When Stan and I got to a financial place where I could afford buying books I became a book hoarder. When ebooks came out, I realized I could divest myself of some of my hoard and hoard digitally, which I do.
  • Celebrating birthdays is different. My Mom and Dad always did something special for our birthday but not like parents do today. We rarely had a party for all of our friends. In fact, a pajama party in junior high was about it. Mom did a big party for me and my friends for my 16th birthday. But a cake, a little present and family gathering was usually the extent of birthdays. Today it's themed parties every year, every kid in the class invited and every kid has to bring a gift. Then it has to be reciprocated so parents are taking their children to birthday parties, buying gifts and hosting parties every year for each child. That gets into a real round-robin binge of gifts and parties. If you have 2 or more children it can be expensive. But it's what is expected now. You certainly don't want to leave someone out and hurt someone's feelings. I remember going to birthday parties where only a few select friends, your besties, were asked. That may have hurt some feelings, but usually we all knew where we stood with each other already. I didn't expect to get invited to Jane Doe's party if I wasn't close friends with her. And the parties were more manageable when it was only a few girls instead of a whole class. Today, kid's expect the big parties and feel like they are unloved if they don't get a big party every year with lots of presents.
  • Movie theaters. When I was a child, going to the movies was a real treat. We didn't get to go but maybe a half dozen times a year. It cost from 10 cents to a quarter each to go and Mom would pop our own popcorn and sneak it in and we drank water from the water fountains when we got thirsty. As I got a little older, our aunts and uncles would take us and spring for fountain drinks and popcorn and we thought we were big time! My second grade got tickets for the movie theater for the summer to get in for 10 cents each. That discount helped us get to see more movies than usual. Today, kids have DVDs, satellite TV, movie channels, Netflix and pay-per-view. They can watch movies on TV, tablets, smart phones, in the car and while sitting in the shopping cart while Mom buys groceries. My little grandnieces and grandnephews know how to use their Mom's smart phone to download Youtube and Netflix movies all on their own. There are still some movie theaters, although not nearly as many as there used to be. But kids don't have to go to a theater to watch movies. And they don't have to rent movies, rewind and return on time or be charged. Blockbuster Video Rental is now obsolete.
  • Passing notes. Children and teens text each other so they don't have to pass notes, or pass around slam books. Texting and social media has replaced letter writing, note writing, slam books. With 3 girls, Mom and Dad had one private line with two telephones in the house. One in the kitchen and one in their bedroom for emergencies. We had to juggle the phone use between us all. We didn't each have our own private cell phones. When we wanted to talk to friends or boyfriends, we had to use the kitchen phone and juggle who talked how long or who had phone privileges. After school, anyone who called our house, probably got a busy signal and had to wait until someone got off the phone to get through. And we certainly didn't know who was calling so we couldn't screen our calls like they can now. There was no call waiting or call forwarding or caller ID. When we weren't face-to-face, our communications were relegated to writing or landline telephone.
  • Eating choices. We had to eat what Mom fixed or not at all. We didn't have an unlimited choices. I remember having my first fast food hamburger when I was 9 yrs old. My first pizza was in high school and my first Mexican food was way after we got married. There just wasn't the abundance of restaurants and fast food chains back then. And, Mom and Dad could save money if she cooked so she cooked a lot. And we had to eat what was available. Junk food, in our house, was rare. We probably got potato chips 3-4 times a year until we moved to Spartanburg when I was 8 yrs old. In junior high I had a bestfriend who's mother got Charles Chips every week. They would actually deliver their supply of Charles chips to refill their tin every week. I was SO jealous! We did get donuts and fountain drinks when we moved here because Granddaddy owned a donut shop but we didn't get bags of cookies, chips, candy, etc. It really was a rare treat. Usually for family gatherings, birthdays or picnics. Mom was particular about making sure we had protein, vegetables and fruits which meant growing a garden and canning/freezing so we would have those things all year around. We had supermarkets but fresh fruits and produce were seasonal. For instance you couldn't buy a tomato in December like you can today. As we got a little older, we had to help break green beans, shell peas, peel peaches, shuck corn, etc. Dad tried to get us to help in the yard and garden, and we did, but reluctantly. We really hated working outdoors. But we did do chores and weeding, killing potato bugs, picking the ticks off the dog, picking and processing garden fruits were part of our chores. I wonder how many children get involved in that today. Going out to eat was a treat.
  • Going to school the first day and the teacher giving us our supplies, and going step-by-step to cover our textbooks. We were responsible for bringing pencils/pens, notebook and loose notebook paper (in high school we added spiral notebooks). That was it. Today it seems that parents have to pick up LISTS of supplies that each child is required to bring to school. Everything from pens/pencils to kleenex, paper towels and organizing materials. And, still, teachers often supplement their classes out of their own pockets. In the first grade we got a free big pencil and a carton of big crayons for each of us. We had brown paper-bag-type paper to cover our textbooks and she would show us how to cover them. My textbook covers lasted the entire year. I put my name on them and didn't do a lot of defacing. But a lot of kids drew on them and really decorated their bookcovers. We did not have backpacks for our books. We carried armloads of books and notebooks every where we went. Probably led to my back problems. But boys often carried their books on their hips and girls carried them in their arms in front. It wasn't cool to use book bags. I remember about 15 years ago, when it was a fashion to use a small foldable suitcase cart to carry bags of schoolbooks. I thought that was so smart and saved their backs. But today, it's all backpacks and going digital helps cut down on some of the weight. You may carry a laptop but you don't have to carry as many books, papers, and notebooks?
  • Playground games. We used to play things like Simon Says, dodge ball, tag, hopscotch, marbles or jacks. These were games played for generations. But today's kids probably wouldn't know what these old games are. I HATED dodge ball because it hurt. But that was popular when I was in elementary school.
  • Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Explorers, 4-H. These groups are still available but I don't think they are as popular today as they were in my time. Youth groups and school clubs and sports are more popular now. A lot of kids participate in sports throughout the year. They go from baseball to football to basketball to soccer and back to baseball. Or they do dance class, volleyball, soccer, etc. That combined with church groups and school clubs mean there is probably less time for the old time Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, etc. Kids have a LOT of choices today in whatever interests them. It's almost too much to decide sometimes.
  • Clothe diapers and baby pins. Today, disposable diapers are great! I was on the tail end of cloth diapers. My poor Mom had to wash and hang dry our cotton diapers. But by the time my sister's children were being born, disposable diapers were the trend. Wow, what a help! I know there are some women who want to go green in this area and that's their choice. For me, that's one disposable "luxury" I would use and then try to be green in other ways. I used to help my aunt hang out her babies' cloth diapers and bring them in and fold them. In fact that was one way the women in our family taught the younger generation how to hang and fold clothes, beginning with those nice regular rectangular diapers. It was easier. After we got those diapers down pat, then we were taught how to fold other clothes. And those baby pins. Can you imagine having something sharp like that around your baby?!? But it's what you had to use. I have a scar on my leg where I was changing my little baby cousin's diaper. He was in my lap and I changed his diaper and his pin scratched my thigh deeply. Mama always taught us how to hold the sharp part of the pin away from the baby as you pinned but that didn't save YOU and I got scratched badly that day.
  • Using safety pins, hooks, snaps, buttons and zippers. Today it's all about hook and loop (velcro). From shoes to bibs, it's all about velcro. I love velcro because it's so much easier. I believe kindergarden teachers still teach how to tie shoelaces, but with all the velcro, it's not necessary very often.

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