We’ve all been there (and if you haven’t you will be). That moment when you’re having a conversation with your child and he does or says something that prompts you to make a mental reference to Boy Meets World or Saved by the Bell. You chuckle to yourself and open your mouth to share your thought. But before you manage to speak the words, you freeze.
Wow, this kid would have no idea what I’m talking about.
How is that possible? When did slap bracelets and the Macarena become dusty old memories, ghosts from a distant past? You broke ground on this burial plot somewhere in your twenties, then put the final nail in the coffin the moment you became a parent. Now that I have you feeling all nostalgic, here are a few more things from your youth you will someday have to explain to your kids.
- Cassette and VHS tapes: Remember when you had to wait for your favorite song or TV show to come on so you could record it? You invariably missed the first few seconds, but it was worth it knowing you got to replay it whenever you wanted. And God help you if you happened to chop off the last five minutes of Dawson’s Creek.
- The Internet: Ok, so I realize the World Wide Web isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. You won’t have to explain Google or Amazon, but you will have to explain how we once navigated the boundless reaches of cyberspace. You’ll have to explain that long, long ago internet access had to trickle through our phone lines, which meant anyone who called while we were holed up in a Yahoo chat room was greeted with a busy signal. Of course, you’ll also have to explain that a chat room used to be a one-stop shop for expertise, romance, and blogging.
- Telephones: What do you mean the internet used to trickle through a phone line? And what is a phone line anyway? If you’re like me, you haven’t used home telephone service since about 1999, so there is no reason your kids would understand the concept of a landline. Which means there is also no real reason they would understand the telephone icon used on modern smartphones to indicate you want to use your mobile gaming device to call someone. Just imagine the looks on their faces when you tell them people once had to stay at home by the phone if they were expecting a call.
- The Save Icon: Much like the telephone, the Save icon on modern computers is often depicted by a relic from decades ago: the floppy disk. According to Wikipedia, the keeper of all worldly knowledge that could never possibly be wrong, Apple became the first computer company to stop shipping computers with floppy disk drives way back in 1998. Which means the little 1 MB squares where we used to store our most precious documents would go the way of the dodo shortly thereafter.
- Handheld Video Games: I’m not even talking about Nintendo’s Gameboy or Sega’s Game Gear. I’m talking about Tiger’s gems, which featured a fixed background and a pixelated hero fighting pixelated bad guys through eight levels that all looked the same. And you couldn’t even play multiple games on a single device. But, man, were they fun!
- Will Smith: Much like the internet, Will isn’t going away any time soon. But the path he took to get where he is may make our kids say Huh? What do you mean he was a rapper?
The secondary challenge to explaining how things were “back in my day” will be getting your kids to pay attention long enough to listen to your story. After all, parents just don’t understand.