10 things I’m sad that my kids will never understand.

My kid has a toy phone. It has a rotary dial and a chord and wheels and a little face. I had this toy when I was a kid and I bet you did too. This toy to me, symbolizes the end of an era. My kid doesn’t believe me when I tell him that his toy is a phone. There is no video, it doesn’t play music and one would look ridiculous with it in their pocket. This is just one example of the things that my kids will never understand. Here, in no particular order, is my top 10 list of things I’m sad that my kids will simply never understand.

10. The phone. I’m not talking about the phone with a chord, or a pay phone, although I am nostalgic for such things. I mean just the phone, as a concept for how we communicate to people over great distances. The phone is literally the least important app on our phones. It was first replaced by text messaging and now with social media there is no use for text messaging. Our point of contact is now our favorite three or four social media platforms. Bygone are the days of that expected ring from which kids would hatch grand schemes for meetups and mayhem. In it’s absence we communicate differently. Not neccesarily worse, but definitely different.

9. Playground justice. On the topic of social media… kids these days, communicating differently, dont face the same repercussions for their words that we did. Once upon a time, a kid who mouthed off on the playground had his mouth smacked by the fist of who he mouthed off to. Now I’m not advocating violence but there is a lot to be said about the character building quality of getting smacked in the face for acting like a jerk.

8. Scheduled TV. Getting home from school on time to get our chores done and watch Duck Tales before our parents got home from work; this was the “screen time” dilemma of our generation. The concept of having to wait for a certain time of day to watch your favorite cartoon is completely foreign and barbaric to my kids. I can’t help but believe that 24 hour access to whatever form of digital entertainment desired is having a negative impact on my children’s worldview. Maybe I’m jealous. Or maybe I wish my kids had more of a reason to hustle.

7. Owning music. I dont actually miss the days of the music industry being controlled and exploited by a select group of law degree, holding gatekeepers. That said, there was something magical about working tirelessly to amass your very own collection of music. Remember the twelve free C.D.’s you got with your subscription to Columbia House? That jumpstarted the path to your musical you-ness. Musical ownership was an investment in your identity. Kids these days are just a stream away from redefining themselves. That’s probably a great advancement but I find myself hopelessly nostalgic for the way it was.

6. Stores. Music stores, comic book stores, video stores… These once great cultural institutions served as meeting grounds, tangible locations by which kids could physically network with one another and establish the meritocracy of cool. All across this country, mainstreets are drying up like old river beds. In this drought we have lost the opportunity for whatever creative chaos that was once born of these forgotten, chance meetings. But hey, at least Amazon offers two day delivery.

5. Having your most awesome moments go undocumented. Once upon a time, a kid would do something awesome. Whether that thing was a skateboard trick or a bully beatdown, it lived on in the hearts, minds and stories of himself and his circle of friends. That thing would grow in proportion over time and be passed down through the younger generations as a piece of local folklore. There is something about this which has greater permanence than a digital record.

4. Having your worst moments go undocumented. Once upon a time, a kid had far greater freedom to be a dumbass. Reflecting upon my own childhood dumbassery, I can only give thanks that I didn’t live in a world where everyone around me had the capacity to capture my hijinks on camera. I’m not saying kids should be dumbasses. I’m saying kids will be dumbasses. It’s a shame that we now live in a world where rather than being able to learn from and move on from; these moments can negatively impact them later on in life. Of course not all behaviour should be excused but neither should all behaviour be weaponized against you.

3. Ignorance was bliss. There was just something comforting about not being able to know all the answers. Back in our day, imaginations could truly soar and trivial pursuit was always fair; unless you owned the game and made the effort to memorize all the cards. I don’t believe for a second that things are more dangerous now than when we were growing up. The only difference is the little fear rectangles that we are addicted to which constantly inundate us with horror stories about our world. I miss when all we had was the TV to inform us of our impending doom.

2. Aimless and untethered wandering. My favorite excuse used to justify cell phone dependency is, “But what if something happens?”

When, I ask, has anything ever happened? Once upon a time, when we traveled to a place, that was it. Goodbye and maybe we’ll call when we get there. Nothing happened and nobody worried. As kids, we were told to be home by dinner. Nobody was GPS tracking our location and we knew what awaited us if we didn’t get home on time; cold food and an ass chewing. Cell phones have made cowards of us all. There is freedom in truly wandering and we’ve traded that freedom in exchange for Google maps and Candy Crush

  1. Organic boredom. A bored mind is a dangerous mind, there’s just no telling what it may come up with. We’ve taken this organic boredom out of the equation and replaced it with perpetually, stimulating numbness. Technology makes a great slave but a terrible master. This is generally the lesson that I want to teach my kids as they pioneer their own paths in this new world. It’s important that they are technologically adept, but I want them to be able to unplug, to untether and to unwind.