We all tend to look back on the past with fondness, reminiscing about how much better and simpler those days were. This is especially true for many when it comes to childhood, particularly when we compare our own to the one our kids are experiencing.
But let’s be honest. It wasn’t all rainbow dust and unicorn glitter.
There are some things about our own childhoods that our kids will never understand. Struggles that, in retrospect, make us simultaneously nostalgic and curious how we made it out alive. You know what I’m talking about.
Without further adieu, here are 24 struggles kids these days will never understand.
1) We had to do our homework without the aid of SparkNotes or supergalactic calculators.
2) If we were stranded after school without a dime for the pay phone to call for a ride, we might as well have planned to spend the night there.
3) Seatbelts were optional. And car seats were essentially a restaurant booster chair with bungee cords that nobody ever used anyway.
4) We had to actually use the telephone if we wanted to communicate with anyone outside our own house.
5) Public playground equipment was basically tetanus with swings.
6) Our parents’ and grandparents’ idea of “educational programming” was Days of Our Lives.
7) We had to wait to watch shows until they were scheduled to run, and we couldn’t pause or record them to avoid missing out.
8) Dinner every night pretty much consisted of mystery meat doused in Cream of Mushroom Soup. Related: Tang and Sunny D were one of the 5 food groups.
9) We weren’t compensated for doing chores. We were expected to do them if we wanted to keep living there.
10) Our parents would lock us outside to get eaten by wolves, for all they cared, so long as we didn’t come back to complain about it until dark.
11) Our limbs could be hanging by tendons and our fathers would tell us to “walk it off” or else they’d really “give [us] something to cry about.”
12) The movie rating system wasn’t quite as defined. PG could mean slight use of language or systematic beheadings and human sacrifice. It was a toss-up, really.
13) The teacher could be Satan herself and our parents would always take her side.
14) Any adult on the street had license to discipline us.
15) Things like bike helmets and knee pads were for the weak.
16) If we wanted to drive the car, we’d better prepare to put gas in it and make a 3-month down payment on insurance.
17) Our parents dressed us less like Instagram models and more like Little Orphan Annie’s stunt doubles.
18) We spent the first 17 years of our lives riding around in a hot box of second-hand cigarette smoke. Windows up, of course.
19) We were limited to 6 soft drinks per day — after we’d had our daily fill of 6 cups of whole milk, naturally.
20) If we wanted to get somewhere, we had to read an actual paper map. And then try to figure out how to fold it back together.
21) We couldn’t connect to the internet as long as someone was on the phone. And even then, it took a good 5 minutes or more to dial up, if we were lucky.
22) Cartoons regularly featured woodland creatures murdering each other with anvils and driving around, solving mysteries out of a pot-mobile, none of which we found even remotely questionable.
22) Our parents would release us into the custody of anyone so long as we were friends with the kids. We could have spent the night with the Munsters for all they knew.
23) If we missed curfew, we hoped our mothers at least thought to leave us a blanket. The front porch gets cold overnight.
24) We lived an almost entirely disconnected existence. Wait, I’m not sure that was necessarily a struggle.
What else will kids these days never experience or understand?