You constantly hear older parents telling us (relative) newbies to, "Treasure every moment, because it goes like that." While treasuring every moment is a ridiculous and impossible suggestion, I'll admit there is great wisdom in the idea that the years just fly by, especially when you have kids. I'm not even talking exclusively about issues related to your family. Looking back on 2015 and 2016 so far, I can't believe what a difference a year (give or take) has made on the cultural landscape. There are things parents did in 2015 that no parent would do today. Because, even in that span of just about two years, things that seem totally normal "back then" are potentially (if not definitely) laughable now.
It's no secret that 2016 has been a tough year. First of all, the 2016 election has pretty much been in our face non-stop for two years, so the collective "we" are done and over it and ready to move on. On top of the non-stop political coverage, an endless supply of important issues that need to be directly confronted and addressed have been in our mouths for some time now but, since this is an election cycle, few of the people talking the loudest are actually doing anything about those issues. Instead, "we" are just talking about them and getting anxious and riled up and probably arguing with relatives. So, you know, it's been a super fun year. Then, in a generally less important but equally pervasive way, you've got your celebrity news, heartbreaking celebrity deaths, and surprising celebrity breakups. We've had some damn cultural shake-ups, you guys, and the year isn't even over yet.
So I thought a fun (or perhaps really, really depressing) game to play would be to shift our focus and take a look at just how crazy things are with the benefit of retrospect and year or so's worth of perspective.
Bet Their Child's College Fund That Trump Would Never Make It Past The Republican Primary
The year 2015 was a simpler time. It was a time when the idea of a flamboyant, pugnacious, mogul-turned-reality star with a history of saying outlandishly sexist things who had been sued for racial discrimination and declared bankruptcy six times could never be president. We were so young and naive. Trump's rise to the top spot within the Republican party as its presidential candidate has been perhaps the political story of 2016.
So here's hoping parents left their kids' 529 funds alone.
Figure It Wasn't Worth It To Get A Babysitter To Go See A Rap Musical About The Life Of Alexander Hamilton
Even co-star (and actual god among us) Daveed Diggs, who plays the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the Broadway mega-hit Hamilton admits that his reaction to creator Lin-Manuel Miranda pitching him the idea was to say, "That's a terrible idea." (Fortunately for everyone involved, he asked to see the script in the same breath.) Who would have guessed that such an unusual product would accomplish so much. Whoa, you guys. It's just like the real Alexander Hamilton! No one saw this greatness coming!
If you threw away your shot to see this masterpiece back in 2015, you're going to have to wait until well into 2017 to get another chance. Probably.
Ask "How Could People Look At The Same Dress And See Two Different Colors?"
THAT DRESS IS WHITE AND GOLD AND I WILL DESTROY ANYONE WHO SAYS OTHERWISE!
(OK, I know it was ultimately settled that it was, in fact, black and blue, but it sure as hell didn't photograph that way. Is this super old news? Yes. But it is a story we shall all tell our children when they ask "Where were you when you first saw The Dress"?)
Be Confident In The Knowledge That No One From The Kardashian/Jenner Family Could In Any Way Be A Role Model To Your Children
Some famous families are known for their charity. Others, their talents. Others, their ability to grow the economy through innovation and financial wizardry. The Kardashian/Jenner crew were known for none of those things. They're mostly known for being famous for no real discernible reason.
Then, in April 2015, Caitlyn Jenner (then named Bruce and still using male pronouns) declared she was trans, making an underrepresented and discriminated against community more visible than in the past. Whether Jenner herself is otherwise a good role model (she has been criticized on a number of issues, including her politics, which are kind of confusing) her decision to not only live authentically but to announce it in such a big way was brave and significant.
Feel Your Heart Break As You Tell Your Child That Same-Sex Couples Can't Legally Marry
In one of the happiest days of 2015, marriage equality became the law of the land when the Supreme Court made their ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. In a majority opinion, Justice Kennedy beautifully wrote:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice,and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
Casually Shrug And Assume That Hillary's Email Fiasco Would Blow Over Quickly, Just Like Your Toddler's Meltdown. It's Bad, But Eventually It'll Stop.
I mean. Eventually all that will come to an end. Like, they'll make their inquiries, make a ruling, and that will be it, right? Right?!
Tell Another Parent At The Playground That There Was No Way Beyoncé Was Going To Top Her Last Album
*2016 comes along*
*We sob in awe before literally exploding in a dramatic frenzy of emotions*
Take Your Family To Church And Assume No Harm Could Befall You
The tragic massacre at Charleston's "Mother Emanuel" church by a white supremacist in June 2015 horrified the country and appeared at the crossroads of several issues already at the forefront of American consciousness: gun violence, racially motivated violence, police treatment of suspects based on their race, and faith.
Houses of worship have historically been synonymous with sanctuary — the Charleston shooting served as a sobering reminder (since, after all, this is not the first Black church that has been targeted by hateful, racist violence) that until these issues are actually addressed, nowhere is safe.
Think "We Should Buy A Volkswagen! That's An Environmentally Friendly Family Car!"
In 2015, Volkswagen was caught in a doozy of a scandal when it was discovered that they had been deliberately misrepresenting their emissions standards in millions of cars, internationally. Which, in the biggest picture, is terrible for the environment, but it's also super-sucky if you're an eco-conscious person who, say, is moving to the suburbs and needs to buy a car for the first time. So you spend hours and hours researching which vehicle is going to be the least bad for the environment — but within your budget — and you finally decide on a Volkswagen only to find out "Womp, womp! Sorry Sucker! It's actually way worse than you thought."
Hypothetically. This totally didn't happen to anyone I know... #deadpan
Figure There Is No Point In Keeping Your Baby In Your Bedroom For More Than A Few Months
Oh, I'm sorry, new parent, did you think you were going to sleep in 2016? Well, that's adorable. Yeah, turns out that the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that babies remain in the same room with their parent for at least a year to prevent SIDS. So, you know, no pressure or anything.
Whether or not a family chooses to follow these guidelines, of course, is a decision left to parents and pediatricians. But the point is this issue has gone from being "not really a thing" to "something you have to talk about now, because expert opinions."
(And hey, if it makes you feel any better, I actually got less sleep after my kids left my room, so this might actually help new parents sleep. You never know, you guys.)
Assume You're Not Going To Take Your Kids To The Latest Star Wars Movie Because The Prequels Were So Terrible
But OMG, you guys, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was really good and so much fun. I never could have imagined this franchise could have redeemed itself back through most of 2015, but the good times have returned.
I mean: girl Jedi as the lead. Come on.
Finally Feel OK Declaring "You Know, I Think Brad And Angelina Are Actually Going To Make It..."
Goddamnit, I had finally let my guard down on this one. Say what you will, you fools who insist on renewing your membership to Team Anniston every year for the past 12 years, but I liked these two, especially as a parent, because they seemed to be in that whole thing together. *sigh*
BRB. Finding new #celebfamilygoals
Not Get Upset If You Miss An Episode Of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, Since It's On Four Nights A Week And Always Will Be
Come back to us, Jon. We need you now more than ever...
Assume Your Gifted Child Bringing A Clock To School Is Cause For Praise And Encouragement
Yeah, back in the early days of 2015, we would all just assume — as a matter of course — that if your bright, mild mannered child brought in a clock of his own design to show his engineering teacher, it would be an act lauded and rewarded by his school and administration.
This is exactly what Ahmed Mohamed did at the beginning of the 2015 school year. It didn't take long for his English teacher to confiscate the Muslim student's invention and direct him to the principal, where he was questioned by administration and police before being arrested, sent to a juvenile detention center, and suspended. I guess along the way, no one thought, "Hey, let's ask the teacher he said he wanted to show this to if this is, in fact, a clock." Way to encourage kids in STEM fields, idiots.
Tell Their Child They Could Never Possibly Live On Mars
But between NASA finding liquid water on Mars in 2015 and David Bowie dying in January 2016, it's totally possible now. What does Bowie have to do with this, you ask? Well, because obviously when you're David Bowie you don't just die like a mortal: you transcend to the stars and ready a new and fabulous planet that will one day save humanity. Duh.
Honestly, after what a sh*tshow of a year this has been, packing up my family and moving to Mars feels like a really great idea. Sometimes.