5 Things I Did As An 80s Kid, That My Own Kids Will Never Experience

Gather ‘round, my fellow Gen Xers

Solo Poly Janie
4 min readFeb 22, 2021


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You know you’ve arrived when there is an American Girl Doll from *your* generation. Let me introduce you to Courtney Moore, who perpetually lives in 1986. She plays Pac Man, wears stone washed jeans, and even has a Care Bear sleeping bag.

When I first heard about Courtney, a wave of nostalgia washed over me. Her scrunchies, leggings, and analog TV made me yearn for a simpler time. Not everything was wholesome about the 80s, though.

As a kid, I did a lot of things that today, would warrant a call to CPS. Let’s take a look at the top 5, shall we? I’ll start with the most shocking thing first…

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#5. I bought cigarettes for my mom.

Yes, you read that right. My mom would have me walk to the corner store and buy her a pack of smokes. The cashier knew my family and never batted an eye.

It seems crazy now, but I’ve talked to other age peers who did the same thing.

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#4. I never wore a seatbelt.

How many people could fit into a station wagon was like a game of Tetris. Kids sat on the floor. Kids sat on each other laps. Kids smooshed into the way back, their faces pressed against the windows.

And those pesky seatbelts? You tucked them into the crack of the seat so you wouldn’t hurt your butt by sitting on them.

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#3. I ate peanut butter sandwiches at school.

I was in my 20s before I even heard the word “EpiPen.” Food allergies and intolerances were virtually unheard of. PB&J sandwiches were a staple in our Star Wars and Strawberry Shortcake lunchboxes. There were no “forbidden” foods at school.

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#2. I fixed cassette tapes with a pencil.

This one almost didn’t make the list. Because in case you haven’t heard, cassette players have made a comeback. My 8-year-old son received one for Christmas.

There were tears in his eyes when he thought the player ruined his cassette. He came to me with cassette in hand, a long tail of tape flowing from it. I whipped out a pencil and went to work. That’s what I call a #ParentingWin.

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#1. I made a lot of prank phone calls.

I’m talking hundreds over the course of my formative years. Prank calls were the highlight, if not the reason, for most slumber parties I attended.

A lot of the calls were harmless, if not incredibly annoying. Like calling our teacher at 11:00 p.m. and hanging up when they answered. You can no longer remain anonymous when making a phone call. Even if you call a landline, *69 (last call return) will bust your ass.

For more Gen X nostalgia, check out these articles

I asked my fellow Gen Xers what songs defined our generation. Here are their top 10 picks.

In the early ’90s, everyone was watching “Days of Our Lives.” During the summer of ’93, the soap opera had an over-the-top plotline that gave me a case of taphophobia: the fear of being buried alive.



Solo Poly Janie

Janie writes about life as a 40-something solo polyamorous woman. She can be reached at SoloPolyJanie@gmail.com.