As a college student, I’ve been experiencing a large amount of nostalgia recently. Kids in my grade are getting married, starting families, beginning careers and doing other adult things; meanwhile, I’m still asking my mom to make my dentist appointments for me. I keep having the overwhelming sense that I have further to go in creating a life for myself, but at the same time, I wish life would back off with all of the stressful responsibilities it’s throwing at me. The freedom of growing up has come with a lot of responsibilities, and it’s easy to miss my carefree childhood every once in a while.
Fruit snacks and boombox jams have been replaced with coffee and late night cramming. It’s difficult to not miss the “good old days” sometimes. To give you the ultimate dose of nostalgia, I’ve put together a list of my favorite childhood memories so that you can reminisce, too.
1. Car rides
Before shotgun came into play, there was the lavish life of backseat chillin’. In my book, you lose points if you had a car with a TV but gain major points if you ever played with a Gameboy, Tamagotchi, Hit Clips or etc. while you chilled. The best days were when you got a sucker from the bank drive thru.
2. Building forts
Obviously, having large trees or a forest by your house is a key component here. The most important part about fort building is that you never actually finished building one--it was always a work in progress. If you were lucky enough to have a legitimate tree fort, that means you were able to have movie moments like "The Sandlot" sleepovers or "Stand By Me" adventure planning, and I am forever envious.
3. Bike gangs
The key to a solid bike squad was combining your smaller group with another small one from across the neighborhood; then you could feel like a rebel for traveling so far from home (which, in reality, was like four and a half blocks away). If you had a nearby park as a central meeting location, or pegs (the OG tandem bike), then you were doing bike gangs right.
4. Grocery carts
Wow life’s little pleasures, like sitting on the bottom of the grocery cart next to a pack of 2-ply, trying to sneak snacks into the cart while your mom pushed you around the store. Standing on the side of the cart was equally rebellious, and coincidentally more comfortable.
5. Television shows
Coming home from school and collapsing on the couch to watch a 3:30 episode of "Lizzie McGuire" or "The Amanda Show" is a key memory in many '90s kids lives. If you can still remember what channel Disney, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network or Animal Planet were on, you are in this boat.
6. Game night
Candy Land. Guess Who. Mancala. Uno Attack. Trouble. Life. Parcheesi. Cadoo. Battlefield. Monopoly. Scene It. Enough said.
7. Capture the Flag
Along with this, Ghost in the Graveyard was also an excellent group game. Talk about adrenaline-rushing fun. If you didn’t play these games at night with your neighborhood squad, then your childhood was deprived.
8. Monkey bars
Sitting on top of the monkey bars with who else but your ride-or-die gang of the week? Some weeks, the swingset was where it was at, but in the end, the monkey bars would always prevail.
9. Snack selection
Fruit Roll-ups. Frozen waffles. Lunchables. Teddy Grahams. Smucker’s. Applesauce. Goldfish. None of it was healthy, and none of us cared. I don’t think our parents cared that it was unhealthy either, because sometimes we were so picky that any food was acceptable.
10. Children’s menu
Unfortunately, once you reach 20 (or, more realistically, 12) it’s no longer socially acceptable to order chicken fingers for $4.99; otherwise, we’d all do it. Paper children’s menus with puzzles and coloring sections on them are arguably the most clutch creations ever. Looking back, our parents probably picked restaurants that had interactive children’s menus specifically so that we’d sit there and shut up.
Elementary school playground atmospheres closely rival the competitiveness that appears during college sporting events. Post-lunch games of football, four square, kickball and lightning are some of my craziest elementary school memories. If you didn’t break a sweat or come out with any bruises, you weren’t doing it right. Competition was everything the moment you stepped onto the playground.
I may or may not have gone through a phase where I rotated through four pairs of crazy patterned socks that I wore with rolled up flare jeans. Yikes. But guess whose opinion I cared about? No one’s but mine. (Although after the short middle/high school phase where everyone judged everyone, I now am back in the same IDGAF boat as I was back in third grade.)
Wow, emotional yet? It was the best of times, it was the worst of times--but mostly just the best of times. Your childhood friends, hobbies, and snack choices are all an integral part of who you are, and it is always fun to reminisce on the correlated randomness of it all. Lastly, let's say a quick amen that our childhood memories are free from hover boards and hashtags. Bless up.