Back in my day…

Published 9:16 am Wednesday, December 24, 2014

When I was younger, my parents told me a number of times that children knew how to respect their elders when they were my age. They professed that they didn’t mouth back, that they owned up to their mistakes and that they were, essentially, God’s gift to Earth.

They’d lay claim to stories about how they were perfect children, that they had to work hard for the things they received and that kids my age just had it easier than they did.

My favorite of them all came when we would ask them for a ride to school, which was just down the road, “Back in my day, we had to walk 10 miles in the snow to school, uphill both ways.”

Now in my 20s, I’ve found myself saying those same things when I compare my childhood to that of today’s youth.

It was especially evident as the staff of The Tidewater News and I filtered through hundreds of letters to Santa. When I noticed that several kids were asking for a brand new iPhone 6+, I quickly declared, “I didn’t even get a phone until I was 16!”

“Kids these days…,” I mumbled.

We sifted through another dozen or so letters and noticed a few children asking for a PlayStation 4 or XBox One.

“They’ll never know what it’s like to have to blow into the cartridge for the game to work, or have to sit two feet away from the television because the cord doesn’t reach any further.”

With each statement, I realized that I am becoming more and more like my parents each day. I find myself looking at today’s youth, questioning whether or not one generation can be so profoundly different from another. Why is it that every generation compares their own experiences, triumphs and difficulties with those that follow? Why can’t we all relate?

The truth of it is, though, is that we’re not all that different. Kids today aren’t any more spoiled or any more sheltered than past generations, they’ve just benefited from further technological advances than years past. Things aren’t easier today, either, as kids today are just us before the cares or responsibilities of adulthood sank in.

It’s fun to reminisce and it’s normal to miss childhood, but the problem with doing so is that our minds tend to idealize the past. We only remember the extremes, making us point out the best and worst times of our childhood. We become older and feel out of touch, so we resort to pointing out how much harder it was in the past or how easy everyone has it today. In reality, though, it’s the same as it ever was.

There’s nothing about “kids these days,” as they’re miniature versions of us. Instead of criticizing today’s youth, we should wonder what things they’ll look back on with pride, as we do when we take a trip down memory lane.

As a ‘90s kid, I believe I grew up during the golden age of television. With cartoons like Rugrats, Hey Arnold and Rocket Power, as well as series like “Friends,” “Saved by the Bell” and the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” I think that you’d be hard pressed to find a better decade of television. Unless, that is, you speak with someone from the ‘50s.

I’m sure the first words out of their mouth will be, “Back in my day… .”

ANDREW LIND is a staff writer for The Tidewater News. He can be contacted at either 562-3187 or