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Then & Now - Back in my day. When I was young…

31 Aug 2012 | Sgt. Heather Golden

Say it and immediately someone’s eyes are going to roll. People love saying those words as much as people hate hearing them, but it’s true. Kids are going (or already have gone) back to school and with that comes new shoes, new supplies and a new grade. A step up, even if you graduate from first to second grade; picking your nose to learning why not to pick your nose. Then in third grade, you take a science class where they tell you what’s in your nose. Having kids at the beginning of the school year is just as exciting for you as it is for them. From my understanding, school today is a bit different because of the following:

You see, back in my day we had cartoons. We had He-Man, we had G.I. Joe and we had Transformers. And yeah, we rocked their images on our shirts and jackets. We had book covers made by television networks promoting their cartoons; book covers with ThunderCats and the Ghostbusters. Then we got something so revolutionary, that ‘til this day, it still is running strong —  a smart alec, mischievous, underachiever by the name of Bart Simpson.

Everyone lost their minds.

So where are we at now? My son doesn’t even watch Saturday morning cartoons. He gets Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network all day long with basically the same cartoon character type, just drawn a different away. Yeah, they tried to bring back some of the classics, and we try to sit them down and explain why the new G.I. Joe or ThunderCats cartoons are good. Then they turn to us and say, “What’s so special about that?”

Remember when we had good, innocent wholesome music? (Not really, people have been pushing the envelope for a long time.)

We grew up with Michael Jackson who gave us sparkling gloves and zippered leather jackets. Nothing really wrong with that. We had Pat Benatar with leggings and headbands. Again, nothing really wrong with that, and it promoted a workout.

Now? Lady Gaga walks around with a meat dress. Katy Perry gloats about the taste of cherry Chapstick and people begin to blush. And Rihanna? Rihanna dresses in a conspicuous manner that is only eclipsed by the lyrics in her songs.

So what does this have to deal with school? Well, for starters you have the fashion. These celebrity singers and rock stars set the standard. Kids want to wear what the “stars” are wearing.  Walk into a kid’s section and suddenly dressing my kid in a Pokémon t-shirt isn’t as ridiculous as I thought it would be. Wearing hand-me-downs used to be a source of contention in a household. Now kids flock to thrift stores to wear clothes that other kids threw out. This mystifies me, but does not baffle me like one piece of clothing does. A piece of clothing that would warrant it’s own rant and really fires some people up… skinny jeans.

Thanks Justin Bieber.

When I was young we didn’t have an iPad. We didn’t have an iPhone. We had little calculators on our watches. That was high-tech. The first time I saw one of those watches I thought the kid must have gotten it from some scientist who worked on rockets. I mean, I was counting on my fingers back then (and still do now), and the kid in the desk next to me is counting on his wrist. High-tech Bill Gates type of technology. Now, kids have phones that do everything but drive them to school. They’ve got iPads that can carry more information than the five or six one-pound books we had. Which leads me to the next piece of gear that was essential.

The backpack. It’s almost a non-issue now with the technology we have now. Why carry 10 pounds of paper when you can carry a one pound plastic computer? Sure not everyone has one, but not everyone had a computer  20 years ago either. It’s a new age.

Gone are the Big Chief notebooks and the Trapper Keeper. The pencil boxes filled with colored pencils that you never used (except for the red or blue to grade papers. Interesting, they even had a two-sided pencil that had one end red and the other end blue. Revolutionary!) Where do we go from here? When will my son, having children of his own, get a school supply list and shake his head from side to side and say,

“Back in my day…”


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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms