Ahhhh, the 80s.
Michael Jackson and Madonna.
Aqua Net and banana clips.
Jelly shoes and Sweet Valley High books.
If you spent a great chunk of your childhood kicking the can around your neighborhood’s streets in this totally tubular and bitchin’ decade, you probably wax nostalgic about it pretty damn often. And why wouldn’t you? It was like, soooo, like, rad, and, like, anyone who thinks differently can just zip it because growing up in the 80s was SCHWEET!
So if you can recall with perfect clarity what order the songs were on the Thriller album, and you never left home without your Lip Smackers and Babysoft perfume, consider yourself to have been raised in the most trippin’ of times, and here’s why…
1. Street Light Rules
What was the one totally unbreakable rule that every kid on the street had to live by? We all needed to be home when the streetlights came on. An entire generation survived and made it home in time for dinner based on the neighborhood’s light timers. Good. Times.
2. Birthday Parties At Home
Pre-Pinterest birthdays at home, where your mom baked a cake from a box mix (and left it in the pan to eat), you drank bright red Kool-Aid from Dixie cups, played freeze-tag in the yard, and nobody went home with a goody bag. They did, however, go home exhausted and happy — no goody bag required. And if you were really lucky, you had your best girlfriends sleep over, and you prank-called people all night long, while listening to Pat Benatar and eating Jello Pudding Pops.
3. Biking Everywhere
And I mean everywhere. To the 7/11 for Slurpees, to the empty lot to play hide-and-seek, to school and the library and back. Anywhere our bikes could traverse, so could we. Suck it, Uber.
4. Saturday Morning Cartoons
Remember how exciting Saturday mornings were because finally there were cartoons on TV? And admit it — the only reason you really know that a bill goes to Capitol Hill is because of Schoolhouse Rock, not your middle school history teacher.
5. Cheap Concert Tickets, Casey Kasem’s Top 40 Countdown, and MTV Played Music
Long-distance dedications, the ability to see Cyndi Lauper LIVE for $12, and an MTV channel that actually played music videos 24 hours a day. Who didn’t want to be Martha Quinn when they grew up?
6. No Cellphones, Social Media, or 24-Hour News Cycles
Which translates into less comparison because nobody knows what anyone else is really doing (perfect family Facebook posts didn’t exist), more face-to-face human connections and interactions, and the 6 o’clock news told you all you really needed to know. Sanity saved.
7. Trust Between Neighbors
Remember really knowing your neighbors? Remember never hesitating to ask them for a cup of sugar, or to watch your kids, or to look over your house while you’re on vacation? Remember not worrying they would call Child Protective Services on your mom when she told you to go play outside all day alone (and don’t come back until, well, the streetlight rule)?
8. No Parent Organized or Supervised Playdates
Want to hang out with kids your own age and play hide and seek for 12 hours then have a marathon game of Clue? Great. Then get on your bike and GO FIND THEM YOURSELF. Knock, knock, “Can Mary come out and play?” Can we please bring that back to childhood today?
9. Freedom. Freedom. Freedom. Oh Sweet Freedom.
No GPS tracking. No Life 360 on our phones. No adult in our face — watching, approving, organizing, structuring, or supervising every single thing we did. Every decision we made about how to spend our free time, we made. There is something so refreshingly liberating about a childhood that gives responsibility and independence back to the child, and that is something all children of the 80s were lucky enough to enjoy.
Is it possible to raise kids nowadays with the same level of freedom we had in the 80s? Is it possible to rewind the technology clock and let our kids live their days without being held hostage to constant connection, to online societal and social media pressures, and to our over-the-top safety conscious parenting methods? It is, but it takes some serious holding back on our part as parents. But as hard as it is to let them grow (and go) it’s worth it, because one day I want my kids to tell me how great it was growing up in 2017.
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