It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.It was the age of OshKosh, it was the age of Dunkaroos: oh, childhood. If Dickens was alive today, he would rhapsodize about the days when choices were as uncomplicated as deciding between the sandpit or the ball pit, when cooking was simple as popping a pan in the Easy Bake Oven or tearing the plastic off a Lunchable, and when heartbreak was no greater than the devastation you felt when that weeknight episode of Full House was a repeat (Uncle Jesse, how foolish we were for crushing on Steve over you!).
Indeed, childhood was a time that brought new meaning to the notion of fun and folly, and whoa, don’t we miss it. We know “growing up” is all part of the circle of life (or so we learned at age three from The Lion King), but don’t you wish that it was still socially acceptable to dress up as a fairy princess and tote your teddy bear in public sometimes (whoops, some among us still do)?
While your street cred is higher than it was during the years you rode in a car seat in your mom’s minivan, there’s something to be said for the days of being a kid. Here are 10 things we miss most about childhood:
1. Perfect Skin
Oh, to return to the days when “Clean and Clear” meant nothing more than the state of your toy box after the clean-up song, and Neutrogena, as far as you knew, was the alien name of the latest Transformer. At some point, perfect skin became a thing you stopped simply having and started striving for with a twenty minute morning and night facial routine. How children maintain perfect skin playing in dirt all day with perpetual Nutella smears across their cheeks is a mystery to rival why I use Bioré strips so often when tearing them off makes me want to cry.
2. Nap Time
As a child, a midday nap is a part of your daily routine—ninety minutes of “you” time between the exhausting activities of constructing Legopalaces and watching Care Bears on cable. Nowadays, nary an afternoon passes me by during which I don’t fantasize about curling up on the nearest park bench, I’m so exhausted. Trying to function for an entire day on six hours of nighttime sleep is like trying to power yourself for twenty-four hours on six unfrosted Mini-Wheats, which is just about the amount I have time to eat in the morning after sleeping in because I powered through nap time the day before.
As a kid, recess was the best mini-vacation you could possibly wish for, but instead of drinking mojitos on a beach somewhere in the Maldives, like you dream of now, all you wanted was just to run out the double-doors each day to defend your title as tetherball champion and grass stain your knees so badly playing Red Rover, your mom gave you a time-out for it and took away your Super Smash Bros on N64 privileges (how could she?!). But seriously, even now, not even acing a killer test can top the victory you felt the day you beat that fourth-grade snob Mandy in Marco Polo.
4. Saturday Morning Cartoons
When you were a kid, Scooby-Doo was your Mad Men. Your curiosity reared over burning questions like whether Scooby would catch the bad guy again, or speak real words for once. As a child, your day started at like, 6 AM, naturally, because you were this crazy nocturnal creature that didn’t need to sleep until noon to feel rested (imagine that? See: 2. Nap Time). Before your parents were up, Saturday morning cartoons were there for you. They signified a day of innocence that your Saturday mornings now can’t hope to rival as you inevitably walk-of-shame back to your place with a hangover to rival what you imagine Don Draper must experience every morning of his life.
5. Summer Camp
Unless your parents sent you to Kids’ Law Camp (yes, that actually exists), summer camp is probably one of the fondest memories you have of your childhood. You just played all day and no one tried for a second to stop you. What were you to choose between: swimming or hiking? Making bead necklaces or having someone paint your face like a lion? Now the only choices you get are between having a 100% final or a 50% paper and 50% final. You’d roast marshmallows around the campfire instead of in your microwave like you do now. You’d stay up all night telling ghost stories in tents instead of cramming for that 100% final (why did you choose that option, again?!). Summer camp was bliss!
6. The Simplicity of Relationships
When heartbreak strikes now, it’s impossible not to grow nostalgic over days when unrequited love only meant David ran away when you told him you like-liked him in a game of truth-or- dare under the jumbo slide. Granted, knowing where you stood with someone back in the day was a little more complicated, (‘cause you had to get Alicia to tell Brendan to ask Marshall if he liked you or not, first), but nothing felt better than the moment it got back through the grapevine to you that he did. You’d hold hands and run to the corner of the schoolyard together and never dream of making things complicated by kissing because ew, that would be so gross.
7. Acceptable Nudity
Wouldn’t it be freeing if for once, you could just slap on a pair of boy shorts and get on with your day without the trial and tribulation of getting dressed? No more questions of “Should I be pairing black and navy like this?” or “Do I have VPL in these pants?”; VPL didn’t exist when you were a kid because half the time you were running around totally naked forgetting all about underwear and being attired in general. Nowadays if you walk around nude, you’ll either be escorted away by the popo or have your picture end up on Facebook somewhere, which would totally be worse than arrest.
8. (Virtually) Consequence-free school
Long gone are the days when if you didn’t show up for a test or hand in an assignment, the only consequence you’d face was not getting a gold star. When you’re in elementary school, all you have to do is mumble out some half-hearted story about your printer jamming and you’re instantly granted a week-long extension. Try that now and you’d need a doctor’s note, a letter of integrity, and a quarter or more of your soul to validate your excuse. Report cards used to come in a signed and sealed envelope you’d pass off to your parents and pat yourself on the back for remembering to deliver. Imagine doing that with your official transcript now?
Don’t lie—you would still go trick-or-treating if you weren’t turned away at every door you knocked on with such understanding sentiments as, “You’re too old for this. Go away.” wouldn’t you? Is it really so wrong to look forward to having your own children one day for the simple pleasure of eating more than your fair parental share of Tim and Bobby’s hard-earned Halloween candy? It’s not often you come by free things in this world, and when you do they’re usually ballpoint pens superimposed with company names—uhh, thanks...—except on that one glorious day of Halloween, when the Hersheyand Cadbury angels bestow upon you dozens of pounds of junk food simply for slipping on a costume, putting your hands out and praying to the gods they don’t trick you, instead.
10. Birthday Parties
You may think you party hard now, but remember how hard you partied when you were 7 years old? You were invited to parties every weekend! Sometimes you were double-booked! It was madness. The absolute biggest threat someone could hold over your heard was uninviting you from their birthday party. No cake? No goody-bags? No piñata?! What would you do?! The thought was terrifying, and if someone ever stooped low enough to say it, you’d definitely give them their ball back immediately, or stop flicking dirt at them in the sandbox or whatever it was you had done to be threatened with such cruel ends, ‘cause all you wanted in life was to party, all day, every day. Parties have never been so much fun since and you’re going to spend the rest of your life trying to reclaim that high.