KIDS TODAY ARE SOFT … and here are some of the reasons why

Remember the whole “When I was a kid, I had to walk 10 miles … at a 90 degree angle … in acid snow … through packs of rabid wolves … on genetically-altered, mutant ant beds” reprimand we all got as kids? Every generation gets the speech from their parents. And every generation swears they’ll never repeat it to their kids.

But we’re all a bunch of liars.

Case in point … I made the following observations recently while chauffeuring my kids to one of their many exciting adventures over the summer break.

  • Exhibit A … We were listening to ‘Tween Radio” on Pandora.

When I was a kid, we didn’t have radio stations geared specifically to MY age group.

  • Exhibit B … When a song came on that didn’t meet their collective satisfaction, they both yelled out “Skip!”

When I was a kid, we couldn’t just fast forward through radio airplay. You either suffered through the crap song OR you changed the station … to one of the three other decent FM choices available on your mom’s dashboard.

  • Exhibit C … When I inevitably pressed ‘Skip’ (because I am a lazy, Gen-X parent and it was easier than listening to the incessant squawking), Pandora ruthlessly went to the commercial break that airs after every five or six songs. Both kids let out an exasperated sigh. And the commercial went on for an “excruciating” fifteen seconds. It was absolute torture.

When I was a kid, the ads droned on for five minutes … which was approximately the same length of time as the segment of actual music that preceded each break. And WE passed the time by mimicking the voices and sound effects we heard. Problem solved.

So, at the risk of sounding like an 85-year-old, I’m just going to say it.


(and here are some of the reasons why)

Dear Son & Daughter,

(Wait here while I put in my teeth.)

In MY day …

When you liked somebody and wanted to publicize it … you didn’t use Facebook or Instagram. You used the school bathroom wall or you sent in a dedication to your local radio station when you hoped he or she would be listening. And, of course, they always were … because there was NOTHING ELSE TO DO!

When you ordered pizza … it was Domino’s. Your topping choices were cheese, pepperoni or sausage. And if they took longer than 30 minutes to slap it together and cause traffic accidents rushing it to your house, it was free!

When you wanted to make popcorn … you got out a big pot, popcorn kernels and oil OR, if you were lucky, your Jiffy Pop popcorn kit. Then, you burned yourself making it on the stove.

When you wanted to see a movie … you had to wait for the one summer kids’ movie to be released. When it finally came out, you saw it in the flat-floored theater holding the tiny paper sleeve of popcorn and the small Coke between your knees because there were NO CUP HOLDERS! And, with no PG-13 rating in existence, there was a good chance you’d get to hear the mother of all curse words in otherwise benign PG-rated films like Big.

When you wanted to buy that movie after it left the theaters … you waited a year for it to be released on VHS or Betamax, paid $80 for it and prayed the tape didn’t snap every time you had to rewind it in the machine. And the rewinding process could often take up to 5 minutes.

When that $80 video tape malfunctioned … you carefully used a pencil to rewind the entire spool of tape so you could salvage your new copy of Xanadu.

When you wanted to listen to music on the go … you used a walkman. It was as big as a VHS tape so it was tricky to manage while riding a bike. Unless you had a basket on your handlebars. That basket was also handy for storing extra cassette tapes (each holding up to 90 minutes of music!) so you could stop on the side of the road and change out your tunes when the mood struck.

When you used your walkman … you listened to the music through headphones, not earphones. Big, goofy, sometimes neon-colored headphones. There was no hiding these “stylish” monstrosities.

When you liked a song and wanted to own it … you could either wait for your mom to bring you to the mall so you could spend your allowance to buy the record or cassette tape OR you could chain yourself to your tape deck and wait for the song to come on so you could tape it, usually with the stupid deejay talking over the front and back ends of it.

When you wanted frozen yogurt … you put Yoplait in the freezer, as there was no such thing as frozen yogurt.

When you had a prize in a cereal box … it was in the cereal, not encased in a protective plastic condom between the cereal and the cardboard. Made-in-China craftsmanship, be damned. They mixed it right in with our food. And there was no squabbling over who got to keep it. If it fell into your bowl when the cereal was being poured, it was yours. (Yes, we started eating out of mixing bowls to work the system.)

When you had to sell candy or something for school … you had to put that crap in a wagon and walk the neighborhood by yourself unloading it door to door. And no one worried that you would be kidnapped.

When you wanted to watch TV … you had to choose between 5 channels and hope the antenna brought in good reception that day. Everyone in the house had to agree on the show. There was no split screen. And if your parents wanted the TV for themselves then you had to go use the old black-and-white, 12-inch you inherited from your great uncle that was plugged in the room over the garage.

When you wanted to play video games … you stuffed all your quarters into an old sock and begged your parents to take you to the arcade. If you were lucky, they liked the games, too. My dad almost always had the high score on Pac-Man and my mom on Galaga. My talent? Frogger and Centipede.

When you realized you wanted to be able to play video games at home … you begged your parents to buy an Atari, Coleco or Intellivision “gaming console.” You were usually stuck playing them on the old, 12-inch-black-and-white television you inherited from your great uncle (see above) so you weren’t always occupying the “good TV.”

When you wanted to communicate via wireless technology … you used a walkie-talkie or, if your family splurged a little, a cordless telephone. And all of these items didn’t work worth a crap. You were better off with two cans and a string.

When you had a question and you needed answers … you had several options: (1) ask your parents, (2) ask your friends, or (3) get your mom to drive you in the station wagon to the library, look up the Dewey Decimal number in the card catalog, find the stupid book and then sift through it ’til you found what you were looking for. And all of that usually came at the expense of a Saturday.

When you got a McDonald’s Happy Meal (because NO other restaurants made kids’ meals) … you got a slider-sized burger, a handful of fries, a packet of cookies (truly the best part), a thimble of Coke and a toy. They did not ask what gender the toy was for when you bought it. And you couldn’t swap it out for anything else.

When you wanted a diet soda (though I don’t know WHY you would) … you got nasty, skunky, turpentine-tasting Tab. One calorie of pure evil in a can. Seriously, that should’ve been their ad campaign.

When you wore shoes (IF you wore them) … you had two choices: sneakers and flip-flops. And you wore them until they fell apart. Even in the pool.

Alright, fine. It’s not like I grew up in the middle of the Bubonic Plague or anything but I still contend that today’s generation is way softer than mine. I had fun lampooning my kids and myself coming up with these little gems and could probably think of a dozen more if I applied myself. (See lazy self-reference above.)

What do YOU think? What did I miss?

* * * * * * * * * *



61 responses to “KIDS TODAY ARE SOFT … and here are some of the reasons why

  1. Darned whippersnappers!
    You should tell them about laser discs and pet rocks too.

  2. I so enjoyed this.
    And you are so young.
    We were just puzzling over how to fold up a walker….we’ll go online and look it up.
    Its now folded.
    To us older farts technology is amazing. And Skype is a godsend. What a great post !!

  3. When you wanted to talk to friends outside of school you, 1. I had to find a dime/quarter and some random pay phone within walking distance of your home if you had to talk about something that you rmom could not hear about, 2. sit in front of the family if you didn’t have a phone in your room because home phones back in the day had cords and you couldn’t venture far from its base or if the phone was mounted on the wall in the kitchen, BUT 3. You could crank call them and they wouldn’t know who you were because caller ID and *69 didn’t exist until late in the 80s.
    P.S. I miss that movie theater at Village Aurora, I spent many quarters at Funland, GODFATHER’S, and I can’t wait until the Algiers library re-opens tomorrow. We had lots of fun on the BestBank!

  4. A fresh set of batteries needed to be carried with the walkman at all times, because damn those things would drain like vampires.

  5. They will likely never have to bang out erasers after school!!! Forget trying to get your folks to buy you walkman batteries…How about 6-8 D batteries for your boom box cause your friend’s grandma’s car only has a.m. radio.

  6. This was such a delight to read! Excellent!!
    My childhood to a T.
    My arcade game of choice was pole position. I’m pretty sure that’s where I got my awesome driving skills.
    I didn’t mind the flat floor movie theater or the fact that I could never get enough candy buttons!
    Rewinding the VHS was always my restroom/snack retrieving break. Now, I have to prepare in advance to watch movies. I don’t have the luxury of getting things done between rewinds.

  7. I don’t even have kids and my husband and I say these things to ourselves. “Remember when you had to DIAL a phone and you could get a BUSY SIGNAL?? and you could only walk as far as the cord would let you? And buying a LONGER CORD was like getting a million dollar upgrade?”

  8. Love the frozen yogurt one! And I’m on board with Heather. My first car was a 1976 Dodge Aspen (and this was in 1997.) I had an 8 track, but only had the Jackson 5 and Cher. Thusly, I also ended up with a boombox in my front seat. After I wore out MJ and Cher.

    • My friend, Sharon, was also saddled with a eight-track stereo system in her car. It was a dinosaur even then. Fortunately, she managed to get her hands on a copy of David Bowie’s Changes One. I think I can still sing every word to those eleven songs.

  9. Beth Fontenot

    Thank you! I needed a good laugh today! That card catalogue picture gave me a nostalgic twinge, though. I miss those so much!! Sounds like you were at the top of the technology food chain; we didn’t get a VCR or cable until ’83, and *I* was the TV remote! Since my parents cruelly dragged me out of New Orleans to the wilds of SW Louisiana about the time all this became paramount in my life, I spent my teen years with no mall or arcade within a sixty mile radius, no Domino’s, a theater with *one* screen, no fast food, and the biggest insult of all – the sorriest city library I had ever encountered where the staff policed what I checked out. Don’t think I’m not playing that sad, sad song for all it’s worth to my kids when they’re whining about Netflix being slow or having to turn off their (CFL) bedroom lights when they leave the room!

  10. I used that card catalog picture because I could smell it through the monitor. Glad you enjoyed. Sorry about your Pentecostal upbringing.

  11. That. Was. Awesome. Christmas of 1983, I asked (begged) for a boombox that had tape-to-tape recording. (I was a music pirate at an early age.) It was the best gift EVER!!!!
    Oh, and unless someone has topped it recently, I hold the high score at FruitBerry. High score on Frogger, that is. These young kids can’t hold a candle to my 80’s skill with the joystick.

  12. Pit fall! I loved that game. I did not like walking through genetically changed ants. They bite!Great post!!!

  13. OK….computer geek….

    When you wanted to use a computer, you didnt use a mouse…you had a keyboard and a monitor. You put a floppy disk in it that was the size of your head. Then you typed RUN…and there was no such thing as Runescape, Warcraft, Halo, etc…..I played ZORK and pretty much every other Infocom game, which was ALL TEXT – OMG, you had to READ. And then in order to do something, you had to type it! Like: go north, look at wall, look down, attack grue, stab orc, etc. Damn, I miss those games….

    Oh, and when I needed to heat something, I used the toaster or the oven! And it took more than 30 seconds! I didnt get a microwave until I was in High School!

  14. Ya, but did you play Zork? LOL

  15. Cracking up over here!
    I had a twenty-five foot cord for the phone I was lucky enough to have in my room in high school. My first car in 1986 was a 1980 T-Bird and it had an 8-Track player. I had one tape, the soundtrack to the movie Hair, and I knew every word. I decided I was going to star in it on Broadway, until I found out they were all naked!
    How about vinyl albums? Anyone? I had my parents’ old stero in my room and would put an album on to go to sleep each night, but if I was ‘t asleep by the time Side One was over, I’d have to get up and either flip it over to Side Two, or restart it. Those bitches didn’t have repeat buttons! And we had to listen to the songs that we didn’t like between the good ones, or risk scratching the record when we picked up the needle to move it! Very dicey business!
    Damn, kids are lucky today!

    • My sister still has a bunch of vinyl albums and one of those new fangled record players and she actually plays them. My niece might be the only kid in the state of Maryland that will know what a “record” was!

  16. Omgosh! This made me laugh so hard! So true and so funny!

  17. WAit, wait, you forgot to tell them about playing those really sophisticated Clue games on the VCR, or the first abttery operated game Simon. And what do you mean your mother let you change radio stations in the car???? Wasn’t everyone listening to The Carpenters and Olivia Newton John cassettes in their car until the tape snapped? How about not having to wear seatbelts and sitting in the “way back” in the station wagon or better— STANDING on the floor behind the passenger seat? It is truly amazing any of us have our limbs intact and brains that aren’t mush from all the “dangerous” living we did back then!

  18. I have come back here four days in a row and each time I enjoy it more – and I don’t see how that is even humanly possible. This was spot on. The only thing that I can think of that wasn’t covered in your post or the comments (and I’m showing my age here) is a party line. I remember when we moved from New Orleans to upstate New York in the late 70’s. our house had one. We had to hope no one else was on the line, we got the message if someone called for us or none of the neighbors were listening in (even though you could totally tell when they were.) Ah, the good old days… Keep up the great work!

  19. Very nice. Kids today don’t know how good they have it with their DVR’s. Seriously. Kids don’t have to watch commercials ever.

    Hilarious post! Found you from Finding the funny.

  20. Wow…the memories you all brought back ! How about having to take film in to be developed and HOPE like heck the pictures turned out because there weren’t any delete and retake options. Or, when the cheapest burritos at Taco Bell were like $4.50 and min wage was less than $3.00/hr. How about no netflix but having mom or dad drive you to the local video store where you selected your movie from maybe 75 vhs and beta movies combined. And wait for it … taking mom and dad’s car to prom b/c no one got a limo ride.

  21. There was no e-mail. If you wanted to write someone or send out an invitation, you had to write it on paper. And you didn’t have a cell phone. So, you’d sometimes sit and wait for phone calls, especially if someone was calling you long-distance. It used to cost a fortune to talk to someone who lived thirty minutes away.

    Great post! 🙂

    • Ooh, I forgot about that one. I can remember waiting to make a long distance call until after 7pm so that the per minute rates would be cheaper. And, if you really wanted to save, you waited ’til after 11pm. Totally forgot about that. 🙂

  22. So right. So good. So glad I don’t have to “Be Kind, Rewind” any more.

  23. Oh to the days of hovering by my boom box waiting with bated breathe for latest from Tiffany to queue up so I could catch it on tape and gift my boyf with the true marker of love in the day: a mixed tape…

  24. Don’t forget that when you were eating your popcorn from a paper sleeve, you were surrounded on all sides by chain smokers b/c there was smoking in the theatres, on airplanes, in the doctor’s office…
    Great post! I’m Anne, from Life on the Funny Farm. Nicole (Ninja Mom) sent me. And I am so glad she did!

  25. I looooove this! I’d forgotten about calling in dedications! I also remember calling the radio station to find out when a haunted house was going to open, because what else was I going to do, look it up on the internet? ON MY PHONE? No way, I didn’t even have a pager yet!

  26. These are SO funny — what a walk down memory lane! My kids are going to be soooo confused — wonder how constantly playing Jack Benney and Fibber McGee and Molly on the satelitte radio is going to mess with their sense of time? 🙂

  27. When you wanted to watch cartoons, you woke your ass up at the crack ass of dawn on Saturday morning and watched the 3 hours and two stations that had cartoons. There were no all-day cartoon stations or marathons. When you were older and your parents got cable, you could watch the USA Kids Club for another hour before it switched to wrestling.

    That was it.

    • Excellent, Heather. I remember waking up at 5:30am to watch New Zoo Revue (which was so old it was already in reruns) simple because I could.

      And I was happy to do it.

  28. I love saying to my kids, “these were the old days. there were no cell phones. You had to run anywhere if you wanted to tell somebody something fast.” So funny.

  29. sisterhoodofthesensiblemoms

    So much good truth in this that I can’t pick a favorite. It was all hilarious and spot on! I was just talking to my kids about no PG-13 movies the other day. And no cupholders? Good lord we lived through tough times. Ellen

    • Thanks, Ellen. I was actually at a movie theater today where I thought there were no cup holders. Just as I was beginning to gripe about it, my daughter pulled down the armrest and showed me we did in fact have one. What a baby.

      Yeah, I mean me.

  30. That’s hilarious! I love it!

    I had my “moment” of realizing I’m getting old when my daughter asked me, “What’s a commercial?” Yep. We’ve had TiVo her whole life so she’s never had to wait through a commercial. Oh. What is the world coming to??!

  31. Pingback: Kids Today are Soft & and Here are Some of the Reasons Why (EXTREME MAKEOVER EDITION) « OldDogNewTits

  32. My dad told me when he was 13 he left his parents house and worked construction, busting concrete in the snow. Now he is in his mid 60s and he still works harder then most mid 20s guys. He made me learn how to swap engines, work on cars, and do calculus and physics by the time I was 18 years old. I feel really sorry for the yougner kids of my generation because I noticed that they are really lazy and disrespectful.

  33. I go waaay back. I was a cashier at a grocery store and we had to count down at the end of the night with a hand crank adding machine that was built like the transmission out of an Edsel. The first time I saw a microwave cook food, I expected a witchdoctor to come out and start shaking a chicken foot over it.

    • I remember the first time I saw a microwave in action, too. I was really little and all the neighbors gathered ’round to see the single muffin rise in the newfangled oven. I should point out, however, that no one actually tasted the what-we-now-know-to-be-the-very-rubbery muffin. We were only concerned with speed that eventful day.

  34. 8 tracks… kasem…dance fever..hand held electronic games… chase…drive in movies.walking everywhere or riding a bike..freezing in winter and sweating in summer

  35. OMG! It’s so good hearing from you. Yes, I fell off the face of the earth for a while. But I hope to be back in 2017.

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