My friends and I grew up as 80s kids, and I can distinctly recall being allowed to do all kinds of things we would find crazy today. Like roaming the streets of our neighborhood for hours with no way of being contacted. No cell phones, or tracking devices on our backpacks or implanted in our brains (do they have that yet?). Nowadays they’d call that grounds for a CPS visit; back then, we called that Monday. Not only were our parents OK with these freedoms, they encouraged them. Did they not love us? Did they not care? Were they that hard up for a few minutes of peace that they would risk our lives?
Most the adults I know now would be vehemently against such insane acts, myself included. In fact, being unreachable by cell phone could push us straight into panic mode. Here are a few things we did as 80s kids, which make me wonder how we survived. Today they’d get someone arrested or at least get your house taken off the playdate circuit …
7 Crazy Things ’80s Kids Did
- Safety Shmafety
There are pictures of me riding in my dad’s convertible in a Moses basket. A freaking Moses basket, in the back seat, that was actually not a seat, but more of a shelf. “Yes, officer there was a baby in this car, but I hit a bump a few miles back and I haven’t seen her since.”
Once I was out of my “car seat” it was time for seat belts, which were more of a safety suggestion than precaution. Sure, if I was sitting in the seat of my mom’s shiny brown Mercury Marquis, maybe I would buckle, but half the time I was lying across the ledge of the back windshield, or popping up and down from the floor, or making my stepdad’s hatchback into a bed, or doing some other annoying thing that ensured my parents would never be able to quit smoking.
2. Pardon Me, Can I Borrow Your Lungs?
Speaking of smoking. It seemed that everyone was either a smoker or a smoker who was trying to quit. My mom smoked while preggers, as did tons of mothers. That could nearly get you arrested these days, well at the very least shamed out of the cul-de-sac.
I also recall being sent into the store to buy her cigarettes, of course, no clerk cared that I was 8 years old and looking for Vantage 100s. I’d skip to the car, stop and hack a few times, then hand my mom the carton and the change, so she could then engulf me in a cloud of billowing second-hand smoke. Maybe that’s why I was always popping down to the floor of the car, smoke rises.
And my dad, who smoked a pipe, used to take me into the smoke shops to help him pick a tobacco blend; of course, there was always a heavy smell in the air that I so enjoyed and a cool looking Indian statue. Not to mention they gave stuff away to kids, like licorice or corncob pipes, and pipe cleaners to make into little men (they were looking for repeat business 10 years down the road). Really, only candy stores could compete with a good smoke shop in those days.