Whatever happened to predictability? The milkman, the paperboy, the evening TV...Ohhhh, as days go by. Do you remember these lyrics? Does hearing them transport you back to a simpler time? A time back before you had to pay bills, mortgages, or property taxes when to you, paying taxes meant that you had to shell out an extra 6 or 7 cents for a McDonald’s cheeseburger. Of the bills you worried about, one had 4 kids and for some reason was always trying to get you to buy Jell-O Pudding Pops (in my Cosby voice) and the other taught you Scienceeeeee (in my Science Guy voice)! The only mortgages you were concerned with were connected to little green houses and little red hotels and property taxes always cost you $200.00 or 10% of your net worth. (I am sure you always paid the $200, like I did.) The lyrics from that wholesome 90’s era T.V. Show “Full House”, starring the now post rehab, possibly anorexic twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, could not be truer.
So I have posted this for all of my 90’s kids. First, let’s clarify “90’s kids” because there seems to be a lot of different opinions about what makes a 90’s kid. (Most differentiating opinions can be viewed on YouTube.) As for me, I consider you a 90’s kid if you we’re at least 8 or 9 in 1990. You were old enough to remember important events of the decade and young enough to enjoy the television programs and movies, along with the advancements in gaming and toys. Here’s a little test.
If you have:
o Referred to money as beans, cheddar, bones, or coins.
o Used the phrase “psyche yo berry” at the end of a sentence and then busted out laughing.
o Congratulated someone by giving them their “props” or “mad props”.
o Ended an argument by saying “Talk to the hand”.
o Spent all day playing video games that only allowed travel in 4 directions (Up, forward, back, and down).
o Laughed when someone says “Did I do that” (In their Steve Urkel voice).
· Video games only had “A”, “B”, “Select”, “Start”, and the directional arrows on the controller.
· Where you were when you heard that Tu Pac or Biggie got shot.
If you know:
· Who Steve Urkel is.
· J. Lo as a “Fly Girl” on “In Living Color”, and Jenny from the block.
· That “pigs” chasing a “white bronco” has nothing to do with animals.
Finally, if you are still wondering who killed Laura Palmer.
If you’ve done, remember, know or wondering (not heard about or Google’d) at least 4 of the above, then you most definitely are a 90’s kid. Now that we have established that you are a 90’s kid. You should be able to feel me when I say “Boy, I long for the 90’s”. Not saying that I want to be a kid again, but just that it seems that things were easier and people, well, were more connected. Now, I am sure each generation says the same thing about the next and I could be outta my gourd by thinking this. But, as I watch the news or even look out my door I long for the 90’s. Heck, gas prices alone make me long for the 90’s. (In 1998, South Florida’s gas prices were as low as $.98/gallon. Now in 2011 it’s averaging over 3.20/gallon.) Beyond the gas prices and the mere inflation of living cost in general, I mean let’s take a look at “US” as a society. In the 90’s it was common place to greet your elders with actual words, such as Good Morning or other appropriate greeting(s). Nowadays, you are lucky to get a head nod or a “wuz up?” It was not appropriate for kids to be involved in adult conversations (we either left the room or sat there and kept our mouths shut). Today, kids chime in with their opinions and even add their own bits of news and/or gossip to mix. To go a step further with this, how many times have you seen a little kid “cussing”, talking smack, or doing a very provocative dance that is not age appropriate and you laugh or sighed thinking that was cute. Come-on, admit we are all guilty of it. As it happens, our kids can recite, verbatim, the lyrics to any of Lil Wayne`s songs before they can recite the alphabet (without singing it) and we cheer them on and applaud them for this. There are numerous postings on YouTube that demonstrate this and we watch them, laugh and even “Share” them with our friends on other sites. Where are they getting this from? What is making our kids so “fresh”, so “grown” and ill-mannered?
I have a possible answer.
We 90’s kids grew up on TV shows like The Cosby Show, Full House, and Family Matters, which showed, on a weekly basis, a positive family dynamic. They had their problems, but in that thirty-minute time frame we learned positive values, manners, and even on occasion how to deal with bullies and peer pressures. Our cartoons, such as Tiny Toons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Looney Tunes showed us about friendship, loyalty, honesty, and even showed us a karate move or two. We had other shows like Beakman’s World, Bill Nye, Mr. Wizard’s World that showed us about science and opened our eyes to the possibilities of the "natural world" and "space". There are numerous examples of shows that aired throughout the 90’s that had positive effects on our lives and we lived for these shows. I mean would rush home from school just to catch the next episode. But, even without television we used our imaginations and came up with outdoor games like hide-n-go-seek, leap frog, red light green light, Simon Says and for the more adult of us Hide-and-Go-Get-It...(insert flashback here). These games kept us content, out of trouble, and out of the house, but most importantly off the street corners. How many of us can say that we didn’t run right home after school just to watch our favourite show(s). I know I am guilty of it. Heck, I still do it to this day. (Let me miss an episode of Gossip Girl or The Vampire Diaries because of traffic. Uhhh, you think you've seen road rage now...huh). Anyway, the 90’s were filled with shows and programs that helped us establish our personal identities and fostered our sense of family, community, and values. Now don’t get me wrong, we had our share of programming that portrayed the family in a dysfunctional and comedic way (shows like Roseanne), but again, we had a variety and our parents, if they did not like what we were watching they would make us turn the TV off and impose a reading time or even make us go outside and play with our friends.
Our parents were just that “our parents” and they made sure that we were not watching programming that was inappropriate. Today, as parents we are so busy emailing, e-conferencing, and handling the daily business of business (so that we can afford to give our kids a better life), that we are not passing to our kids the values and morals that we learned. There is a void in their lives that should have been filled with parental warnings, teachings, praises, and lessons. Nowadays, I see kids being left home alone to take care of younger kids. Young kids out on street corners (doing God knows what, well scratch that we all know what they are doing). Children are spending more time on-line playing games, than researching homework. Kids (and some adults) pulling all-nighters playing HALO or God of War on the latest gaming console, instead of studying or sleeping, preparing for school the next day.
Speaking of school, geesh, most parents are lucky to get their child interested enough in school for them to stay all day, let alone stay for the entire 12 years and obtain a diploma. Even, if they do stay for the entire schooling period, thanks to the FCAT (and quite possibly the lack of parental support and guidance) they can't graduate anyway because they have failed that test. This is not to say that the only reason kids fail the FCAT is because their parents didn't help them because I know plenty of kids who failed and had loads of help from concerned parents. Again, thanks for the 90's. Do you remember sitting in class all day learning on how to take test? Do you remember how we learned to take test? The teacher stood in front of the class and said "Make sure your number 2 pencils are sharpened, eyes on your paper, you have blah-blah time to finish. BEGIN!" That was it. We didn't spend all day in a class for entire semesters just preparing for the HSCT (Class of 98 and before this was the standardized test given in Florida that determined if you graduated.) I am not going to seat here and say that this test was easy because to a 16-18 year old everything was long, hard and boring. But, today with the FCAT it is ridiculous. So much so that teachers have stopped teaching kids about the Magna Carta, Dred Scott, 1492, John Brown, and Shakespeare (which really pisses me off because I love Shakespeare and I thank God that Mr. Tempest of Deerfield Beach High School, introduced me to the world of Shakespeare.), just so they can focus on FCAT test taking methods. They have even taken learning the art of cursive writing out of the schools because it is obsolete to the FCAT learning track. Drama, Music, Phys. Ed. and other performing and liberal arts have all fell along the wayside in today’s schools. Learning these types of things helps to expand kids’ imagination and forces them to use critical thinking skills, logic and reasoning. Which must be why our kids today are so lost and unless you talk to them in FCAT format or a rhythmic rap with “dope beats” than they don’t understand and can’t comprehend the message. Our kids aren’t getting the well-rounded education that we got. Most have no choice but to fall into that “thug-life” mentality because they just don’t know better.
Why is that you might ask.
With the combination of the busy parent, lack of intelligent television, game consoles, slacking standards in the realm of education (just to be replaced with emphasis on a test (FCAT) that does nothing to prepare our kids for college or their lives outside of school). It is no wonder kids today are sorely lacking that 90’s mentality that we have. Today, if it doesn’t have anything to do with Facebook, MTV, Lil Wayne, POP Culture, video games, cell phones, and (dare I say it) FCAT or SEX…then our kids have no clue. What are we going to do about this? It’s too late to re-train them and with the absence of the “Doc’s” Dolerian time machine we can’t turn back time and make sure that our kids get the best. Heck, even half of what we had in the 90’s would probably make a difference in their lives. We have “progressed” too much to give our kids what we had. So we must ask ourselves is that “progress” for the better or have we weakened our communities, youths, and society-at-large, just so we can watch a cartoon kid, with a football shaped head, attempt to kill his mother and cuss out his father on a weekly basis. Just so we can send text, email, check our FaceBook and call from a single device. Just so we can watch tall blue people converse with a tree in 3-D and so we can watch all of this on our new 52” HD/3-D/1080 pixel Plasma TV or our cell phone. Is it worth it? Are our kids better off? That’s a question you have to ask yourself. I say no and the thought makes me long for the 90’s…
What you can do about it is get involved with your state and local government(s). Vote and make sure that your kids and our society get what they need. Progress must be coupled with intelligent legislature and responsible media. The only way to get that is for all of us to do our civic duties and get involved in the government and our communities. Make our city halls and capitols know that we are not going to sit idly by any longer and allow them to manipulate and confound “US” or our youth. It’s time that their legislative roadblocks be knocked down, so our kids will want to get off the street corners, want to pause their games and put down the game controllers, want to put that cell phone down and stand up and run pass us toward a better future.
We better start acting like we want that now, before those roadblocks are so cemented that we’ll be imprisoned by them.
ACT UP, SPEAK OUT, GET INVOLVED, AND VOTE!