Home > Amusings, Parenting > My Childhood Could Beat Up Your Childhood

My Childhood Could Beat Up Your Childhood

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

For week 2 of Kludgy Mom’s Back to School, Back to Blogging challenge, we were tasked with taking an idea from the blog Idea Bank and using that as inspiration for our posts this week. I decided to use my own idea: BRING IT BACK! Cool stuff from your childhood that you wish were still around for your kids to enjoy.

Metal Slides

The sun would shine brightly on these, the tallest structures on most playgrounds, promising kids of all ages a thrilling ride. What we got instead were 1st or 2nd degree burns. But whatever, we learned to adapt. Whether it was sliding while only allowing our clothed butts and shoes to touch the surface or running down the slides altogether, metal slides were tons of fun. And they weren’t massive sources of static electricity either.


Dangerous? Yes. Thrilling? Absolutely. These would make any kid squeal with delight – it was the Justin Beiber of its time.

And I loved them even more because my sister was amazing at making the merry-go-round go around. She used to hang her right leg off the edge and use her thunder thighs forceful legs to propel us around – we called it the bunny leg. It was pretty much the only time I’d ask her to come play with me and my friends.

Old School Playgrounds

You won’t find the above pieces of playground equipment at playgrounds today. Instead, everything’s made of soft plastics and rubber, and even the ground is a cushiony, rubbery material. BAH HUMBUG, I say. In my day, you didn’t really play at the playground unless you got a splinter from the wood chips the ground was lined with. And yes, the equipment may have been dangerous and you could easily argue playgrounds today are more safe, but in my childhood, I had the best safety feature of all: fear.

You didn’t go running around all crazy because skinned knees are no fun – unless, you’re a boy and you practically wore them like badges of honor. You didn’t go around jumping on the equipment because we all knew it wasn’t sticks and stones that broke our bones – it was playground equipment.


I love mp3 players: to think you can hold 1000s of songs in your pocket is remarkable. But why is it that I don’t like a single song that my iPhone plays, especially when it’s on shuffle mode? Thousands of songs and I only find one I like when I finally reach my destination.

That wasn’t the case in my childhood. My mixtapes were meticulously crafted, with each song building upon the excitement of the previous song, until I reached audiogasm and then *click* I got to do it again on the other side. Not so today. Today, it’s all about the quickies – finding one song you like, then moving on to the next one, with plenty of unmemorable songs in between. But in my day, it was a purely binogomous relationship with the A and B sides.

I also lament the fact that, along with other character building things from my childhood, my daughter won’t know what it’s like to wait patiently for a song she likes to be played on the radio in order to record it. Now, she simply has to download files buy music with a few clicks. And heck, if you wanted to skip a song on your mixtape, you still had to wait a minute to skip a song, then fiddle with the ffwd and rew buttons till you got the tape at just the right point. It’s all about instant gratification nowadays I tell ya.

Gym Class

D1 is still far from elementary school, so what I know of elementary school gym classes is largely anecdotal, but it’s safe to say, they aren’t the same anymore, if they have them at all. Being the unathletic, chubby kid, I usually hated gym class. I especially hated the days when I’d walk into the multipurpose room and see several ropes hanging from the ceiling: the dreaded rope climbing day. I use the term climb loosely because for me, climbing consisted of grabbing the rope with two hands and struggling mightily while moving nowhere until the teacher mercifully told me to come down.

I don’t necessarily miss gym class, but it is where I learned that I was destined to do things that didn’t require any physical prowess, so for that I am grateful. I also learned the important lessons of humiliation, failure, and defeat.

Speaking of gym class, do they even have recess anymore? If nothing else, kids these days need to get outside and burn off all their excess calories.

Not only are these things that I miss from my childhood, they’re also why I’ll always tell my daughters that my childhood can beat up your childhood.

Then again, Boomers would say the same thing about me, what with their bb guns and eating lead paint chips.

What about you? What do you wish they’d bring back from your childhood? Would your childhood beat up my childhood?

  1. September 21, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    In all seriousness, don’t get me started on the lack of phys ed or recess in schools these days. I find it so irritating that the kids don’t get time to burn some calories and rest their minds. [Now telling myself to STOP before I start ranting.]

    As for what I miss, it’s not an item so much as a concept. We had more freedom. Our helmet-less heads rode bikes all over the neighborhood, with only periodic check-ins at home. There was less fear, less worry. It’s hypocritical of me to long for that, because I’m naturally concerned for my kids’ safety and thankful for the advent of things like cell phones and bike helmets. At the same time, though, I long for simpler times. I worry that my kids won’t get to be kids for as long. It will be a challenge, for sure!

    • Pop
      September 21, 2010 at 1:36 pm

      Agreed. When some friends told me their kids no longer had recess and tons of h/w, and yet, American students are falling behind compared to other countries, 2 and 2 don’t seem to add up.

      Freedom is a really good one. Personally, I’m going to do my best to ensure D1 and D2 can really be kids, not just miniature adults.

  2. September 21, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Oh man… I HATED rope-climbing with a passion back in elementary school!!! That and gymnastics. It was to the point where I honestly wanted to fling myself off of the parallel bars as soon as I got on them, just to speed up the inevitable 😦

    • Pop
      September 21, 2010 at 1:37 pm

      I actually blocked gymnastics out of my memory, so thanks for bringing it back 😛 but seriously, gymnastics allowed me to showcase my lack of athletic ability in front of all my classmates.

  3. September 21, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    I adore this post, mostly because you accurately assessed gym class as nothing more than a lesson in humiliation. Right on, Brother. You nailed it.

    The metal slides and merry-go-rounds you speak of still exist here in Utah, in a few parks anyway. I took a ride down the longest, most dangerously angled metal slide in existence just three years ago, but I did it while sitting on a block of ice. It sped the experience up a bit, but I still have tissue damage to remember it by.

    • Pop
      September 21, 2010 at 1:38 pm

      We were humiliated but at least we were fit. 😛

      Utah…hmmmm, I may have to make a visit. And sitting on a block of ice down a metal slide?! Is that something that is commonly done (while sober)?

  4. September 21, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    LOVE this! The mixed tapes and waiting for a song to play on the radio so you could record it! The splinters, the super hot slides…all of it reminds me of my childhood. I’m including this on my post on Sat of my weekly favs!

    • Pop
      September 21, 2010 at 1:39 pm

      It was a good childhood, wasn’t it?

  5. September 21, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Um, my kid has recess. Why on earth would they not have recess? It’s where I learned the art of the chase…Mix tapes – and recording from the radio, that was some GOOD times right there. I even have one of songs I dedicated to my boyfriend. Deliliah After Dark or something – she would read your dedication. Total cheeseball.

    • Pop
      September 21, 2010 at 1:48 pm

      Oh man! In the DC area, we used to have love songs and dedications with Glenn Hollis. My wife (then gf) taped her dedication to me.

  6. September 21, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Before you even mentioned the burns, I remembered what that metal slide could do. Ouch!
    My youngest has four recesses per day, and my eldest has P.E. once every two weeks, so yes, those are still around.
    Great blast from the past list.

    • Pop
      September 21, 2010 at 1:58 pm

      Four recesses?! Now I feel robbed with my lame one recess per day, especially on days I got in trouble and had to stand on the wall.

      • Seister
        September 30, 2010 at 5:21 pm

        Oh the WALL!!! Haha. Totally forgot about that. And I can’t believe you used me! I’ll show you what ‘bunny legs’ can do!

  7. September 21, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Ah, the old school playground. I remember the calluses I’d get on my hands from the bars. They went so well with the burns I received from the frying pan slide.

    The mixed tape. I carefully chose, recorded, and wrote the names of my slow jams.

    PE. How I dreaded most of it. Let’s not mention picking teams. Heaven forbid none of my friends were captain. Who the hell wants to be the last kid picked?

    • Pop
      September 21, 2010 at 2:18 pm

      I also loved making mixed tapes for friends, especially girls I thought were cute.

      Ahhh, picking teams. At least you were a girl – some girls would get picked before me.

  8. September 21, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    When my dad died, we found old tapes my brothers and I recorded at his house on the cassette player. Those were the days!

    I hated dodge ball. Hated it! And the team picking too. Lol.

    Great childhood of remembrance! Loved the memories you have. 🙂

    • Pop
      September 22, 2010 at 8:50 am

      My mom and dad still have cassette tapes at their house, along with tons of home videos on VHS.

  9. September 21, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Audiogasm? Great word.

    And I know what you mean about instant gratification. My daughter is stymied by the fact that you can’t push a button and listen to whatever song you want on the radio. Kids these days.

    • Pop
      September 22, 2010 at 8:51 am

      UGH! D1 is the same way! I guess she’s gonna be the only kid in kindergarten carrying around a walkman.

  10. liz
    September 21, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    merry go rounds are what i miss the most!

    i grew up in IL, and supposedly it was the only state left that requires gym everyday, from K-12th grade.

    • September 21, 2010 at 5:39 pm

      WOW, Liz that’s amazing they still have it! I think our elementary schools have it maybe 2 days a week, it might be down to one now!

      Pop- I too miss those big slides, 3rd degree burns and all! As for the Merry-Go-Round, yah not so much, because they made me sick! We do have a neighborhood park where I live that is new and they have one…same thing…not noew or improved!

      Great post!

      • Pop
        September 22, 2010 at 8:56 am

        You’re probably right, Liz. In MD, we only had recess in elementary school.

        There’s really no way to improve merry-go-rounds, save for providing Dramamine

  11. September 21, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    We had to have grown up in the same time. I remember everything from this list. I remember being at a local amusement park for a family picnic when I was a kid. We spent a good portion of the day playing on the merry go round. My clothes were flithy from falling in the dirt while running or falling off of it. But we got up and right back on that thing.

    I remember making mixed tapes and waiting around all day or night for a song to play so I could record it. I also remember making and receiving mixed tapes as gifts too. I played some tapes too much that they actually broke, unwound, all of that.

    When I was in high school AOL was the big new thing. Sitting at the computer for hours IMing friends. Customizing profiles. The “You’ve Got Mail” every time you sign on. Our kids won’t know those at all. Now all they have to do is text. We started the BRB’s and LOL’s!

    • Pop
      September 22, 2010 at 8:59 am

      Yup! We always got back up. And if we went crying to our parents, they’d say stop being a baby. No coddling, nothing. Besides, if we showed them we were hurt, we’d have to stop playing and our parents would bust out the hydrogen peroxide.

      You’ve got mail! Talk about a blast from the past!

  12. September 21, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    sigh. I often reminisce about the crappy modern playgrounds. Plastic slides? Were just starting to show up in “new” playgrounds about the time I was outgrowing playgrounds. Being a girl with long hair, I *hated* plastic slides. Not only did I get the crap shocked out of me every time? But my hair would stand up, too. Yay. 😐

    I used to have a merry-go-round in my back yard. 🙂 It was a blast!

    We will not discuss PE. I H.A.T.E.D. PE with every fiber of my being. Every fiber. Clearly? It was not my best subject. All it taught me? Was to hate exercise.

    • Pop
      September 22, 2010 at 10:25 am

      Every time D1 goes down a slide, she shocks me.

      Backyard? You must’ve had the most popular house on the block.

      LOL. What a fine lesson to instill.

  13. Kat
    September 21, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Wow! That is crazy! My kids get recess as well as gym class and an each class takes 30 mins a day to do something physicl from stretching to running laps.They are also given a sheet to bring home to keep track of any physical activities they do after school hours. At the end of the month they take them back and get points for their team (all students are put into one of 4 groups when they register at the school).
    I miss the playgrounds too and hated gym class! Lol!

    • Pop
      September 22, 2010 at 10:26 am

      Really? Guess your kids are going to be really healthy. Looks like your kids are going to be able to beat up my kids.

  14. TK
    September 21, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    My kids think that Carousel’s are merry go rounds. And nothing I tell them will convince them otherwise. Poor uneducated little cuties.

    Also I nearly bust a gut when I read…I had the best safety feature of all: fear.
    You should charge for awesome lines like that.

    • Pop
      September 22, 2010 at 10:27 am

      Carousels so aren’t the same – a machine does the work for you.

      There’s no greater safety feature than the will to survive.

  15. September 21, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    You made me long for those days – ahh, to be a kid again, in those good old times. 😉 And do you know, I loved the term you used – “audiogasm”! ROFL.

    • Pop
      September 22, 2010 at 10:28 am

      I too love the word, but I love having them more. 😛

  16. September 21, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Oh man this is awesome post. Taking me back. Nothing harder then trying to find that right moment to press record so you don’t get the DJ talking. It was an art form.

    I took a look at some of my pictures from back in they day. My style was rough man. Jams all the way. Jams and swatch watches. I hope Jams never come back.

    • Pop
      September 22, 2010 at 10:30 am

      Timing was everything! And you also had to time pressing stop perfectly as well, since some DJs would talk before the song ended.

      I hope you burned your Jams. Seems only fitting since they burned your retinas.

  17. September 22, 2010 at 2:21 am

    Do naps count?
    Oh, how many times did I embarrass myself by giving someone a mix tape. GOOD TIMES. And you could buy enough sugar to make yourself sick for under a $1! And Pina Colada soda!…and the me before I became addicted to coffee. Just had to throw that last one in there.

    • Pop
      September 22, 2010 at 10:33 am

      Naps most certainly count. And they should bring back mandatory milk and cookies too.

      I’m telling you, the ice cream man was a PUSHER! He’d be there waiting for us just as we got off the school bus. Not gonna lie, I would skip lunch and use the $1 to buy insane amounts of sugar.

  18. September 22, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Pop, this is a seriously good post.

    Seriously well written and so funny.

    I love the new terms you’ve created – audiogasm and binogamous!!!

    I remember sitting there with my cassette player, listening to WLS in chicago, anxiously awaiting whatever song I wanted to record to come on.

    I also remember, in junior high, purchasing a suburban version of a ghetto blaster and walking around the neighborhood with it, playing rockin tunes like “Pina Colada.”

    Thanks for this post today!

    • Pop
      September 22, 2010 at 10:34 am

      And when my mom would say, “What are you doing?” I’d shout, “MOM! I’m waiting for a song to come on!!!”

      LOL @ the suburban ghetto blaster!

  19. September 22, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Mixed tapes are the best! One of the things that endeared me to My Guy was the fact that he made me a “Mixed CD” – a little different than the original medium, yes, but the same idea. I loved it. And OMG do I remember those days of recording songs from the radio. Hah! I feel so ancient now. Thanks for the jog down memory lane though.

    • Pop
      September 22, 2010 at 10:36 am

      I made mixed CDs too, but they just weren’t the same. Probably b/c CDs usually look the same, whereas you’d not only how you labeled a specific mixtape, but also what color/brand the cassette was.

  20. September 22, 2010 at 9:55 am

    This is great!!!

    As I read your post I was thinking of my childhood and it was pretty much the same… metal slides, merry-go-rounds, and mix tapes.

    But then as I thought some more I realized that my daughter’s boyfriend has made her a mix tape (cd) as well as one of her other friends and it was an actual tape!

    My kids have enjoyed metal slides, merry-go-rounds,and playgrounds without all the extra rubber padding. We’ve even had a broken arm because of it.

    I hated gym. Always. No matter what grade. What the hell is the point of climbing that damn rope anyway?

    Looking forward to reading more of your site!

    • Pop
      September 22, 2010 at 10:37 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Jackie. It’s cool that your kids are able to enjoy the things you enjoyed in your childhood.

  21. September 24, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Very cool post. And now swings are getting a bad rap, too. They have been removed from some playgrounds near us. Pretty soon kids will only be allowed to play in a padded room.

    • Pop
      September 27, 2010 at 10:38 am

      But only if they are in a bubble.

  22. September 25, 2010 at 2:04 am

    Oh, this was funny. It spurred a conversation with me and my 3 boys about the slides that would skin your thighs on a hot, sticky day. And the merry go round where you’d go flying off and peuk whatever color kool aid you just drank.

    AH, sweet sweet memories..

    thank you, sir.

    • Pop
      September 27, 2010 at 10:41 am

      YUM! Kool Aid! I still remember the commercials when Kool Aid would bust through a wall and go, “OH YEAH!!!”

  23. September 27, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Oh I love the mix tape, too. Sigh.

    • Pop
      September 28, 2010 at 9:08 am

      Play lists just aren’t the same.

  24. September 28, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Sitting with my finger on the ‘record’ button on my teal boom box is how I spent many a Sunday morning. It was the best time because I knew Kasey Kasem would come through and play all of my favorites during the countdown.

    A memory that may not of popped up had I not found this post. (pardon the pun Pop)

    • Pop
      September 28, 2010 at 2:58 pm

      I didn’t discover Kasey Kasem until much later. That would’ve certainly made my life easier.

  1. September 22, 2010 at 11:40 am
  2. September 28, 2010 at 10:40 am
  3. October 14, 2010 at 11:58 am
  4. November 3, 2010 at 12:37 pm

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