What I’ll tell my future kids
In ten years’ time, when Jason Jr is pointing at a 3D LED Beyblade Generator and screeching like the ungrateful little brat he is, I won’t be able to use the “back in my day” line.
True, growing up, I didn’t have an iPhone 4, a Nintendo 3DS, or a hideously expensive tablet computer – none of which, of course, I needed – but I did have a fine assortment of Lego, a Han Solo figurine and Duck Hunt. My childhood, like that of many my age, was relatively easy.
My parents were always big on the “we made our own toys” thing. They would often tell my brother and I how their toy boxes contained such treasures as: “an empty can and a stick”, “a piece of rope with teeth marks in it” and “five rusty nails”. In between making hula hoops out of tyres and shouting “get your own damn nails” at other kids, my folks were busy playing Cowboys and Indians, selling fresh lemonade and generally having a great ol’ time.
The real enjoyment, however, came many years later when they got to sit down their own brood and tell us how tough it was in the bad old days (side note: they actually had it pretty tough). Sadly, I won’t be able to do any such thing.
That being said, I still think I’m qualified to give some of these new youngsters a wee bit of the “back in my day” treatment. Many schools around the country are currently trying to deal with the recent influx of smartphones – with many unsure whether to incorporate them into the curriculum or ban them outright.
As someone who had to apply for his pen licence in Year 6 (repeatedly), this makes my young, twenty-something soul feel much, much older.
I still remember the time handball got banned at my primary school because it was causing too many fights. In an effort to curb the pushing and hair-pulling, our teachers took the tennis balls away for a week and told everyone to play with skipping ropes instead.
Within 48 hours, the concrete slabs near the tuckshop were filled with 10-year-olds gleefully whipping each other’s shins with plastic skipping rope handles. That’s how we rolled in my day.
I even once read a “choose your own adventure” book. It ended with me getting eaten by a tribe of cavemen because I accidentally went back in time or punched a magician or something. It saddens me to think my children will never get to encounter random and horrifying descriptions of cannibalism in their picture books.
They will also miss out on the classic game Cowboys and Indians. Instead, they’ll be chasing each other ‘round the yard’ playing “PC Police and alleged robbers who are actually victims of an unfortunate family dynamic” (It’s a working title). It’ll be all gadgets and touchscreens and comfy brown Jedi robes for them.
They, like me, will miss out on the joys of missing out. They’ll be forced to lie to their children about having to walk 5km to school and making ray guns out of sandpit syringes – just as I will.
When one of my kids asks why they can’t have the latest seizure-inducing child entertainment product, I’ll have to sit them down and tell them, without so much as blinking: “You don’t need that rubbish. Back in my day, we used to look directly at the Sun when we were bored - then we’d flick our tears into the air and run through them like sprinklers.”
If, however, that doesn’t work, I’ll happily resort to my mother’s favourite four words - those immortal, conversation-ending syllables: “Because I said so”.
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