21 Things '80s Kids' Did That Would Horrify Us Now

Being a Mom 578

As a Gen Xer, I recall baby-proofing not being quite what it is today. In fact, we were given green Mr. Yuk stickers (which were basically like yellow happy face stickers that had just thrown up) to put on anything that was toxic: chemicals, cleaning supplies, etc. I recall showing my mom the stickers and her telling me to go for it (yes, I was to baby-proof my own house). 

So, I searched my house for toxins. I checked cabinets that I'd never thought to open before, climbed on the sinks to get to all the medicines. It was like anti-baby proofing. I slapped the stickers on all my new found poisons and added one to the vegetable crisper, for good measure.

Now, as a parent myself, my own parents like to tell me I'm too overprotective.


"Well, you survived," they say.

"Yep, but it seems like the odds were against me."

I write a lot about being a Gen Xer -- here are a few things I did growing up that make me wonder how our generation survived ...

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1. Thinking the middle seat in the front was the best seat because I could get crushed into the dashboard ... I mean, because I got to control the five radio stations.

2. Being totally inaccessible -- from after school until dinner. Now, we would call that being lost.

3. Having an equal intake of air: 50% oxygen, 50% secondhand smoke.

4. Thinking that SPF 4 was responsibly using sun block.

5. Thinking the haze of Solarcaine I was engulfed in was a healthy way to heal the second-degree burns I inevitably got from using SPF 4.

6. Getting excited when someone had a pick-up truck because that meant the kids got to ride on the flatbed.

7. Sitting on my dad's lap and manning the steering wheel.

8. Eating salami straight from the log.

9. Playing on a rusted swing set where that one leg always popped out of the ground threatening to propel itself into space and then came back with a thud.

10. Helmets? No one wore them, and if you did, you were super geeky ... protecting your nerdy brain and all.

11. Being a latchkey kid by 7 years old. The first couple times I stayed home, I parked a chair right inside the screen door and just sat there staring out so I could see my mom pull up (also, the world could see I was alone with an open door, brilliant).

12. Fearlessly scaling fences, climbing trees, playing in the woods, and jumping streams without a parent in sight to save us (hell, we used to ride our bikes through a cemetery).

13. Running into the store to buy an adult cigarettes.

14. Nerf Shmerf -- oh, we had them, but cap guns and BB guns were way more likely to shoot your eye out ... we preferred them.

15. Car seats? Bahwawawahaha. My dad drove me around on the back shelf of his convertible in a Moses basket. "Oops, she was here a minute ago, must've hit a bump."

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16. And forget seat belts -- I barely sat in the seat at all, lying across the back windshield of my mom's Mercury Marquis, or popping up and down from the floor was way more fun.

17. Jumping on beds until they collapsed. I was once under a bed when that happened.

18. Babysitting at 11 -- In my town, once you were able to dial 911, you were considered a candidate for babysitting jobs.

19. Eating unwrapped things people handed you in stores -- like pretzel logs from the bank.

20. Being left in the car to wait for my mom to do the grocery shopping because I didn't feel like going in.

21. Running around until sundown without a care in the world, a phone in my pocket, or shoes on my feet.

More from The Stir: 50 Random Things I Remember as a Child of the '80s

Any of those sound familiar? What things did you do that you would most likely land someone in an ER, jail, therapy, or on the no play-date list -- nowadays?

Image via JenEcards/TheSuburbanJungle



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adamat34 adamat34

Haha this is all true....we were outside in the woods all the time...we came.in when dad whistled!!

justk... justkeeplaughin

Good ole days! Most of us turned out just fine.

Robin Hartman

This was my life, exactly! Good memories.....

justk... justkeeplaughin

Good ole days! Most of us turned out just fine. Oh, and I LOVED Mr. Yuck stickers! Wish I could find. some now!

ollie... olliespunkma

I think I did all those things..now my daughters almost 10 & hasn't done any except mabe jymping on the bed till broken

bills... billsfan1104

This was soooooo true. All of it!!!!

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

Walking to school alone in kindergarten, eating those silver candy balls made with aluminum, and sitting in the fireplace on winter mornings come to mind. I was never sent to buy cigarettes but I remember buying alcohol in elementary school from the tiny package store down the street; she was still selling to any kid brazen enough to claim they were buying for their parents up until she closed around 1990.

nonmember avatar wildwoodwonder

lol i did all this and more! Including riding my bike a mile outta town to explore a local grave yard in 5th grade, exploring abandon houses, and doing things that would make most parents faint now a days! (Heck I take my son out on country roads and let him stir in my lap! I dont tell anyone though!)

mommy... mommytoeandb

I'm a child of the 80s and my parents were much more protective.  I had a bike helmet, they slathered me in sunscreen (I burn when it is cloudy...LOL), I had to call and check in when I got home, I had to have a buddy to roam the neighborhood, had to wear a seatbelt, they had outlet covers, and nobody smoked.  We did have the rusty swingset!

RMT1995 RMT1995

I can remember my father speeding up the interstate to Maine in his van with my brother and I pretending to surf in the back. He'd swerve purposely trying to get us to wipeout. Or on the way home, my brother would do a headstand on the back seat with his feet touching the ceiling and he'd fall asleep that way. My mother would just leave him.

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