One Sunday morning not too long ago, my 14-year-old daughter and I lounged on the couch watching one of my favorite movies from when I was a kid, Sixteen Candles. My daughter loves all things ’80s and was happy to keep me company. Besides, it was better then doing her homework. As the two of us watched the characters Samantha and Jake kiss as they sat atop a glass dining room table, we laughed and made side remarks about how her pink taffeta bridesmaid dress was going to catch on fire from the birthday candles on the cake placed between them. That is when it hit me. This movie, and the ’80s in general, really taught me a lot – and not just about fire safety.
Here are 5 Things Growing Up in the ’80s Taught Me:
Patience: Growing up in the ’80s, we didn’t have instant access to our favorite tv shows or music the way kids do today. There was no YouTube or Netflix to binge watch. Nope, we had to wait an entire week for the next episode of The A Team, The Facts of Life or Family Ties. And, if we wanted to hear our favorite song, we had to use our babysitting money to buy the record, then sit through 12 crappy songs until the one song we liked finally came on. And here my kids thought having to hear a 30-second ad on Spotify non-premium was bad!
Determination: Like many kids in the ’80s, I think I spent more time trying to solve my Rubik’s Cube than I did doing my homework. My determination to get all those sides the same color led to me popping off all the squares and putting them back on in the correct way. Some might say it was cheating, I prefer…crafty.
Resourcefulness: When I was a kid, if I were given a report on…say…World War 1, I couldn’t just leisurely hang out in my pajamas and research on the web from the comfort of my own living room. I had to be much more resourceful. Some kids in the ’80s were lucky enough to have their own set of Encyclopedia Britannicas. In our house, my parents had half a set of the imitation ones that you bought at the grocery store. So that meant I had to either beg to switch topics with a friend whose subject started with the letter A thru L, find someone who had the other set of encyclopedias, or haul myself to the local library, where I would need to use the card catalog and good ol’ Dewey Decimal to find my information.
Out-of-the-Box Thinking: The mix cassette your boyfriend made you filled with love songs starts to make a funky sound. You push eject on your Walkman and a foot of tape comes popping out. What do you do? If you grew up in the ’80s, you know that you grab a pencil, stick it in the hole of the cassette, and wind it back up. Now that is creative problem solving! Note: When I read this part to my daughter, her response was, “What’s a cassette tape?” I suddenly feel very, very old!
Assertiveness: The ’80s taught us to stand up for ourselves with such amazing comebacks as, “I know you are, but what am I?” “No DUH!,” and my all time favorite, “Gag Me With a Spoon!” Yes, the teens of today are doing a great job speaking out, but we did it without emoticons and text-speak – LOL. OMG!
Okay, I admit there are times I do wonder how many of us born during the ’80s made it to adulthood. I mean, after all we didn’t have seatbelts, we drank water straight from the garden hose and played on scorching, hot metal playgrounds located on asphalt that were guaranteed to give us a concussion, third-degree burns or Tetanus – sometimes all three. But still, I am proud to have grown up in the ’80s. Maybe the decision to wear neon leg warmers and get a perm senior year was not the best one, but I learned many life lessons that shaped the woman I am today. And if I ever think about getting a perm again, can someone please show me this horrible picture? “Like, barf me out!”
Sharon Fuentes is an award-winning freelance writer, parenting advisor, author of the book, The Don’t Freak Out Guide to Parenting Kids with Asperger’s, and a mom who is just winging it! You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.