Kids in the '90s lived the tail end of the innocence era; a time when there was freedom to be taken advantage of, responsibility to be had (as opposed to being earned), and sugar and F, D & C colors to be consumed. It seems like there are so many things 90s parents did that we wouldn't do now; things I am just now realizing now that I can nostalgically look back at how I was raised. I won't lie: there are certain activities that I'm sad my children have to miss out on.
I think the biggest activity I wish my own kids could experience is the random exploration of their neighborhood. Unabashed (and honestly exploited) freedom is something I still remember with fondness, because it allowed me to be something other than just a little girl. I was an explorer, an adventurer, someone who crossed boundaries and had nothing but nature and my friends to keep me company. No phone tethering me to the outside world, urging me to check Facebook or Instagram my experiences or obsessively check email.
That independence has been tough to provide this current generation of kids, thanks to a world that is generally quite a bit (read: definitely) scarier to live in, especially when you're reading newspaper headlines or watching the news. And if you're on any kind of social media at all, then you don't have any choice but to take notice at all the terrible things that are going on in the world. It's enough to make any parent want to Kimmy Schmidt their children for always.
Kids in the 90s wielded considerably more control over their own lives, whether for better or worse. Our children may never know the joys of letting themselves into the house at the end of the day and settling in for a solid three hours of crappy television, but they will also probably never set their own house on fire because they didn't read the directions on a frozen meal correctly. I guess we all just have to take the good with the bad, huh?
So, with that in mind and in the spirit of nostalgia and maybe even a little thankfulness, here are nine things parents in the '90s let kids do by themselves that no parent would allow their kids to do today:
Walk To School Alone At A Young Age
I totally remember walking to school by myself, pretty much from the very beginning of my educational career. Not a big deal back then, for me, but there is no way I'd let my daughter walk to school by herself, in a year. Just, nope.
Go Home For Lunch By Themselves
Starting in grade five, I would go home at lunchtime, key on a string around my neck, and make myself "Zoodles" while watching The Flintstones. Nobody was home except me. I cannot imagine this taking place today.
Take Public Transit
I was taking the bus to the mall by the time I was 10, and that's only because I had just moved to a city where it was necessary to take the bus to get to a mall. My new friends were taking the bus by grade three or four. Of course, looking at this GIF, I realize there's no way in hell I'll let my kids take the bus alone until they're teenagers.
Go Exploring Somewhere New
When I grew up, our house backed onto a giant undeveloped field, complete with grass up to our chest. The summers involved going to explore in that field with no adult supervision whatsoever.
Unless I was in serious trouble with understanding a concept, I was on my own when it came to completing my homework. Although, I have to say, I didn't have homework in kindergarten as far as I can remember. My daughter does, though, and I spend a significant amount of time doing it with her. It's honestly not a task I feel comfortable leaving her to do by herself.
Nobody had any idea what the hell the Internet really was, at least in the beginning. Parents weren't worried about child predators, because they didn't even understand the concept of those chat rooms and what could potentially take place. Now? Well, my children won't be perusing the internet solo, sans supervision. No freakin' way.
Babysitting Other Kids At 11 Years Old
Yes, I was babysitting kids that were four and six years old, when I was just 11. No, I didn't feel competent at it. Yes, I did it (and got paid) anyway.
Crossing Busy Streets
I'm not even talking about jaywalking, here. Crossing a major intersection on your own, at the age of six, was commonplace. No parent supervision, just maybe a set of rules to follow (which you may or may not have done, since your parents weren't there to bug you about them).
Reheating Dinner By Themselves
Am I the only one that put a cardboard pizza box in the oven, at the age of eight? I can't be the only one. And no, I didn't set the house on fire.
Watching Hours And Hours Of Television
Whether it was MTV or after-school specials or VHS after VHS after VHS, 90s kids watched a lot of television. Now? Well, now parents have to read about the dangers of screen-time and how the media is corrupting young minds.