1. Mud, gravel and willing use of the playground in the heat.
I got new scrapes on my knees every other day and a different bruise every other hour. I spent countless hours on the swings, on the slide, on the seesaw… Thinking about it now makes me want to go off in search of an actual playground.
2. Sweet Valley.
I’m one of those bookworm kids who read more than I ran, sneaking chapters of this book in between ballet classes. Before Gossip Girl, Blair Waldorf and Serena Van der Woodsen, there was Sweet Valley, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Before Twilight’s Bella and Edward tandem, there was Sweet Valley’s Elizabeth and Todd (or Elizabeth and Jeffrey. Or Elizabeth and Conner. Or Elizabeth and Tom. Or Elizabeth and Sam. And they say Jessica’s the slut. Wait. Jessica and Sam. Jessica and Todd. Jessica and Ken. Jessica and Jeremy. Yup. They both had it pretty bad.)
3. Boy bands.
The squeaky barely-out-of-puberty voices crooning through cassette tape players made my heart smile to no end. I was obsessed with the Backstreet Boys and the Moffatts in particular. And before Justin Bieber, we had Aaron Carter making ladies of all ages across the world faint at the sound of his tiny voice singing “Crush On You.” And speaking of Carters, hello, Nick Carter. The blond-hair blue-eyed teen was one of the ultimate 90s heartthrobs. I painstakingly gathered song books, posters, magazines, CDs, cassette tapes and watched MTV (the good kind) for hours on end just to catch my beloved boybands. Sorry, YouTube and E! News Online didn’t really exist back then.
4. Barbie, paper dolls and Polly Pockets.
My sisters and I used to create weird scenarios and we literally played with these dolls for hours every day. We didn’t have “Barbie Dress Up” apps so my mom sewed us new clothes for our dolls. But if I could go back in time with an iPad equipped with all doll apps known to man, I’d still take the actual dolls any day.
5. The outdoors.
I know I already said mud and gravel and playgrounds, but I think playing outside was so great that this deserved two slots on the list. Remember roller blades? Ice skating? Running around playing tag? I remember how noisy afternoons in our neighborhood were, with so many kids running around and laughing and rolling around in the dirt. Our neighborhood is eerily quiet now. I wonder why.
6. The Power Rangers.
From watching it to acting it out, who ever really forgot those heroes in spandex tights? I can actually still remember the immortal line: “It’s Morphin Time! Mastodon, Pterodactyl, Triceratops, Saber-Toothed Tiger, Tyrannosaurus!”
7. Big bulky video cameras.
We didn’t have editors or special effects. We taped ourselves lip-synching to Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera and pretending we were superstars. I never want anyone to ever see those videos, but I would never trade those memories for Instagram filtered versions of the same.
8. Boy Meets World.
I miss 90s TV shows. I grew up with Cory, Topanga, Shawn, Eric, Jack, Angela, Rachel and Mr. Feeny. Oh Mr. Feeny, where are you these days? We could really use some of your wisdom now.
9. Disney and Nickelodeon—the good kind.
Do kids these days still watch those classics?
Call me old-fashioned (as old fashioned as you can be, growing up in the 90s), but I liked music better those days. I’m not really much of a fan of all these rappers now, thrusting their crotches and chanting about bitches and getting laid in every single song.
These are just ten ways I got through (and completely enjoyed) my childhood. There are a whole lot of others, but none of them involved spending hours on an iPad or taking countless selfies at 8-years-old and flooding my friends’ non-existent feeds. And let me tell you, even if I could… I wouldn’t change a thing.