Hey mummies. A slight change in topic from the usual, but an interesting one nonetheless.
One thing I’ve noticed since Little J was born is how having a baby makes you reflect on your own childhood. I’m sure every parent of any generation must feel the same, but the differences in technology and the changes in parenting values and attitudes since the 1970’s and 1980’s seem pretty substantial to me.
Saying that, I imagine my Grandma, born in 1918, would have felt the same when my dad was born in 1953 when she was 35 years old, the same age as I am now. (Although my dad is the worst one for not keeping up with technology – he looks at my iPhone warily like it might beam him up any second, and I’m sure he thinks a borrower lives inside his sat nav and tells him where to drive.)
So, after reflecting on these differences, I’ve drawn up a list of pros and cons about being a kid nowadays compared to my own childhood. Let’s start with the good things. Here are my top reasons why it will rock to grow up in this era:
1. The Internet.
Completely obvious. It’s the world’s knowledge and information at your fingertips. I don’t think we give the magnitude of the Internet the credibility it deserves really, as I don’t know about you, but it kind of…crept up on me. One day I was looking up stuff in library books and using my actual brain, and the next day, I had Google in my pocket – and I can’t really remember the in-between bit.
Never ever will Little J “wonder” who sang a particular song or ponder over a misheard lyric. He will never not be able to place an actress in a film, or muse over what else she may have starred in. He will never be at a loss as to how to spell a word, get confused as to what period the T-Rex lived in, or forget the name of Harry Potter’s owl. He will be able to find out any of these things, plus a million more, in seconds. His whole life. Amen.
2. Dad can’t record over your videotapes.
I don’t know about you, but I spent my childhood permanently annoyed with my dad for recording over Postman Pat/Labyrinth/Red Dwarf (depending on my age) with sodding MATCH OF THE BLEEEDIN’ DAY. Every bloody week. Little J will not have this problem. He will not have to pull out the little tab to void the record-ability of a VHS tape or, failing that, get out a marker and write “DAD KEEP OFF” on his (ahem) beloved taped-off-the-telly copy of Home Alone.
3. Smoking is WAY UNCOOL.
This is a massively good thing. Our children are highly unlikely to smoke. Unlike our generation, they will not be subjected to passive smoking of any kind or see their favourite film or TV characters puffing away (unless their favourite character is Deirdre from Corrie. Which is unlikely). Smoking is now like, totally passé, dude.
4. Eating fruit is WAY COOL.
Again, not cool when I was a kid. I once took a packed lunch to Alton Towers on a school trip and my mum had given me a kiwi to have as my afters. I was RIDICULED ALL DAY by some of the lads from my school for eating it.
Nowadays, kids are taking pomegranates and papayas and all sorts to school on a regular day and it’s seen as totally normal. In fact, it’s probably seen as mega boring to eat an apple.
5. Mobile phones
Ok, I’m skipping forward about 15 years here (as I don’t think little kids need mobiles), but it’s got to be a good thing for teenagers to have access to a mobile. Mainly for one thing – to make arrangements to meet friends. When I was younger, if you arranged to meet a mate at the shops or something, and they didn’t turn up, you just had to….go home. Thankfully, Little J will never have this issue.
Plus, let’s face it, mobile phones are now also diaries, maps, sat navs, calculators, cameras and alarm clocks too. Which should also prevent you from being late, or lost, or both.
Seems a simple one, doesn’t it? But as a kid, we never had suncream on. Mind you, we used to holiday in Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire, so I don’t think we were ever in any imminent danger of getting warm, let alone sunburnt. Once, for a treat, we went to Scarborough and there was an actual hurricane (Hurricane Charley. 1986. Blew away several tents as I recall).
But, joking aside, suncream has proven to be the most super important, cheap and easy-to-use preventative measure against skin cancer, and nowadays, babies and children are lathered in the stuff before they can even put one toe outside, pretty much whatever the weather. Good.
7. Car safety
Now this has definitely got to be a plus point – kiddy car seats are pretty incredible pieces of kit. Designed and safety-tested to almost space-rocket type levels, I think our children are lucky to have these potentially life-saving inventions for use from birth.
Again, this is in slight contrast to my own childhood where my parents happily crammed four of us in the back of a Cortina Estate, and because I was the eldest, I had my baby brother on my knee.
8. Wall-to-wall Children’s Telly
Before I go any further, I’d like to caveat this point with the fact that this is from a CHILD’S perspective. As an adult with a seven month-old, I’m already driven slightly crackers by the Peppa Pig theme tune, but if someone had told my eight year old self that one day, kids would have their own channels – and lots of them at that – I would have been a very giddy goat indeed.
All us poor souls had was two hours of kids telly a day, on TWO channels. Mind you, I still look back fondly on the Broom Cupboard days with Andy Crane…
9. Super-charged birthday parties
Birthday parties nowadays are big business. It is, apparently, no longer good enough for our little ones to be crammed into a small living room whilst one frazzled-looking mother tried to entertain 10 seven years olds with games of musical statues and pass the parcel, served up burnt sausage rolls and eyed up the gin bottle for later. Oh no. Parties nowadays are grand affairs with proper trained staff, professional cakes, houmous and crudités and hired entertainment.
And I, for one, am glad. Phew.