Our guest post today is from Amy Ramsay. Amy is a mother and military spouse in Georgia. She is active in her community and tries to remember that it's okay to be imperfect.
I enjoy a good internet meme as much as the next person, but there’s one that makes me glower at the screen every time it hits my feed. I’m sure you’ve seen it – a picture of an old cartoon, vintage toy, or discontinued junk food with the caption, “If you remember this then your childhood was awesome.”
Now don’t get me wrong. I understand the intent. Hey everybody, look at these colorful images and advertisements that bring back warm fuzzies! The pictures can spur happy reminiscing. Yay. It's the caption that bothers me. Words mean things, and these words imply a whole lot of garbage wrapped up in the nostalgia.
One of the many faulty messages behind this statement is, “Stuff makes people happy.” Parents, remember how much you wanted Dunkaroos when you were kids? How you begged for them when your parents took you to the grocery store? Remember how disappointed you were when they said, “No”? Well, if you want happy children then buy them every piece of junk their whimsy calls for. These are the memories they’ll look back on with fondness.
Further, the caption implies, if you don’t remember this then your childhood wasn’t awesome. I think we’ve all been those kids who felt left out at least once because it seemed like everyone had that awesome thing except us. Maybe it was a Tamagachi or Pogs. For me it was the Skip-it. But when I look back on my childhood I don’t think, “If only I had it then life would have been complete.” It’s irritating that the meme-maker assumes something so trivial could make or break a childhood.
The reality is that TV, toys, and junk food are all fun in moderation, but they’re not even the icing on the cake of young life. They’re, I don’t know, … maybe a couple of sprinkles on top? Childhood can and should be an enchanting and fulfilling experience without those superficial extras.
What actually makes a childhood awesome is the exhaustive work of devoted parents and guardians. - Those who do everything in their power to give their children consistent love, security, and encouragement with reasonable boundaries and consequences. Children thrive in an environment where their basic needs are met, and where they feel safe and loved. Being exposed to Earthworm Jim or Gak has nothing to do with it. This ill-conceived meme diminishes the magnitude of the loving service parents and guardians tirelessly perform.
The worst part, however, can take a very personal tone. I get extremely offended someone out there is asserting I had an awesome childhood because I remember Wonderball, or Tom and Jerry. Whoever made this stupid meme has no idea the type of childhood I had. What if I had been abused and neglected? What if I couldn’t remember a single time in my childhood where I actually felt safe, because I could never tell which version of my parents would be coming home? The message being sent to those who come from dysfunctional families is that because you remember Johnny Bravo, or Slap bracelets, all your pain from the past is void.
Words. Mean. Things.