Toddler to Teen (with Nothing in Between)

Okay, I may be having a concerned middle aged mother moment here, but what’s happening to children? Why do they seem to go from nursery to nightclubs, avoiding the whole phase called, you know, childhood?

When I was a child (still am according to the Translink bus drivers, half price fare thankU), I came home from school, played with my cheap knockoff Tamagotchi, went outside and played the ultimate sport that is Kirby and rang my mates on their landline. We all knew each other’s home numbers off by heart and would sit and talk until our fish fingers were ready, or our ma needed to use the internet – shoutout to dial-up.

These bad boys were the OG Nintendogs

I used to call for my friends, “is Sarah coming out?”; “The street’s playing rounders do you wanna come?” and we’d run about, play ‘rap a door run away’, ride Flickrs and be home by 9 o’clock. We went out in the street nearly every day, except when we weren’t allowed out because we had to do our homework, or were grounded. Yeah, grounding was still a thing.

We’d go into town on a Saturday. That was literally the outing. We’d go in, paddle about, go to New Look to try on high heels, take photos in clothes we were never gonna buy, do peace signs non-ironically and go to KFC.

Us getting our photos taken in River Island

But now, things are so different. Children don’t seem to act like children anymore. Primary school children are using iPhones and social media – 8 year olds are following me on Instagram. 8 YEAR OLDS. Children don’t go through horrible fringe, “nobody understands me” or experimental eyeliner phases anymore. They do makeup better than I do (not that that’s hard), have actual relationships – not fake boyfriends you met on Omegle – and go to playgrounds to drink, rather than “play“. Rather than children and teenagers, it seems to be teenagers and like, shorter teenagers.

This is why I’m so glad I grew up when I did, had the childhood that I had and acted my age. Looking back at my behaviour until I was about 15 actually makes me cringe and question why I had friends. I was a weirdo. But we were all ‘weirdos’. Us being weird was us acting normal. We have scundering photographic evidence that we use for blackmail, and sit laughing and shuddering at the way we got on. Do I regret the way I was? Yeah. Would I do it again if I had a do-over? Definitely.

Me after receiving said blackmail material

I wouldn’t want to look back as an adult and not be able to identify when I actually became one. 13 year olds shouldn’t be acting 18. They shouldn’t want to. Being an adult isn’t fun – we have to pay tax. TAX. (Unless you’re rich of course, and then apparently you don’t have to). And pay twice as much for transport and cinema tickets. Ew.

Yes, I always wanted to be 18, and to be honest, I still do – if I could stop aging that would be GREAT. But I always failed (and still do) to act and look like an 18 year old. But now, 12 year olds actually do pull off being 18. They look older than me, are taller than me (there’s definitely something in the water) and are more active online than me.

But I’m glad I didn’t grow up in a time when smartphones, likes and appearance were my priorities. They weren’t even in my radar. I ran about with friends, literally ran about. Outside. The only social media I had was Bebo and I wasn’t even allowed it so had to make it on my friend’s laptop and could only use it at her house. I joined the school computer club purely so I could use MSN to talk to my friends. We literally emailed each other. But in pink text. That was the extent of my online activity – that and a weird internal school “social media” called SuperClubs which NOBODY ELSE seems to remember but I definitely didn’t make up. Someone please back me up on this.

The OG Facebook messenger

I had 0 cares or worries, besides that boy finding out I fancied him or how my side fringe looked. I lived in a bubble, with no exposure to the scary thing that is the real world. Children these days are able to see so much online, stuff they shouldn’t be seeing – stuff no one should really be seeing. The internet’s full of harmful and dangerous things that children can easily stumble upon. Things that are affecting how they see themselves and the “real” world. They’re comparing themselves to Instagram lifestyles and models, because that’s what they see. So that must be what life’s meant to be like, right? But it’s filtered, fake and 90% of the time, it’s paid for.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not children’s fault, they can’t help it. It’s the world they’re growing up in. What are they meant to do, stop using their phones and isolate themselves from their friends? Play outside alone? Rebirth themselves 10 years earlier? Ugh, imagine.

I don’t know if it’ll change. I don’t really see how it could. And that’s sad. We seem to be living in a world with just babies, adults and the elderly. More and more people are born every year, but we seem to have less and less children with each of them.

Children should be children. They should want to be children. Childhood is the best experience of your life. And it’s not fair if they don’t get to experience it.

From Oranges to Apple – What Happened Christmas?

I’m not tryna be a Grinch or rain on anyone’s snowman here, God knows I love Christmas more than Buddy from Elf, but what happened the good old days of getting a stocking full of satsumas for Christmas? How and why has Christmas become so commercialised? Like I’m all for presents and all, don’t get me wrong, but I really do think that the focus on material possessions has gotten out of hand.

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Exhibit A

I just think Christmas isn’t about what it’s meant to be about anymore. I don’t mean Jesus being born all the religious stuff either (sorry ma), I mean family. I mean Mariah Carey. I mean sitting around table with 12 different bowls of food -around 6 of which are various forms of potatoes. I mean pulling crackers and huffing when you didn’t win ~because your opponent was DEFINITELY cheating and held the handle too far up~ and eyeing up their mini screwdrivers or money clip with envy. Not that you’d have used it anyway, but that was your crappy “prize” to bin and your embarrassingly bad punchline to read out.

Christmas to me is about spending the day with family. It’s about slaving away in the kitchen for hours for a meal which is vacced down in about 15 minutes; followed by slaving away in the kitchen for hours doing dishes for the 17 saucepans and 9 of each cutlery even though there were only 6 of you eating.

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We don’t have a dishwasher either. I cry.

I don’t know when it stopped being about this and started being a competition of who got the most stuff. Christmas has always been somewhat commericalised of course, with a massive focus on spending money and buying gifts, but I think that it’s really starting to get a bit ridiculous. 89% of shift workers said they’re afraid that they can’t afford Christmas. Like how is that even a thing? How can you not afford a holiday? No one says they can’t afford Halloween or Easter, so what the hell happened? What have we, as a society done to this holiday?

Christmas is meant to be about excitement and happiness, not fear, dread and panic. So many people spend money they don’t have on things they can’t afford, and for what? Payday loans and buying with credit aren’t the answer, or the solution. If you can’t afford these things right now, then how will you be able to afford them with the 879% interest on top of it?

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Christmas seems to have become a sort of competition among children of “whose parents love them more” and among parents of “who loves their children more”. Asking friends “what did you get?” not so much because they care, but to mentally compare it to what they got. I don’t know why or when it started getting like this, but I do think social media has a big part to play. Before, people didn’t see what you got for Christmas, but now, anyone can see it if it’s posted online. Which a lot of people seem to insist on doing. Even though no one asked to see what they got. But sure.

I honestly hate the whole saga of *opens presents* *arranges presents on couch* *takes photo* “Thanks mum and dad, you’re the best❤” *ignores parents the rest of the day and sits on their phone checking what everyone else got*. Posting all this on social media to me just seems like a way to make others feel jealous and bad about themselves.

Like, no harm, but no one cares what you got. You got a £500 phone? Okay cool. Ridiculous for something that will break if you even so much as give the screen a dirty look, but cool. You got £50 phone? Just as cool.

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People post photos of their presents and their makeup and outfits, and their Christmas dinners. Thanks to Snapchat and Instagram stories, everyone now plays a little “judge everyone’s Christmas dinner” game. Like WHY do you have Yorkshire puddings, catch yourself on. Dinner at 8pm? Really? Anyway, I see loads of posts about dinners and presents but hardly any of families.

Children are demanding, no question about it. They don’t understand the concept of money and expense because they never really have to worry about these things. So of course they’re going to write massive Christmas lists and ask for an abundance of stuff, because they think it’s free. Christmas for me changed a lot when I stopped believing in Santa, because I realised that there actually was a price attached to what I wanted.

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I don’t blame her, squirrels are CLASS

Parents feel enough pressure to make their children happy, without having to worry about spending an obscene amount of money on them for one day. “S/he wants it” or “it’ll make them happy”. And that’s concerning in itself. The only way you can make your child happy is to spend money on them? Ya know what makes people happy? Hugs. Hugs are FREE. Conversations are FREE. Support is FREE. The only things I really want that aren’t free are the 6 counties, but not even Santa can get me those.

But it’s not all the children’s fault, parents need to learn to set expectations and say no. You don’t have to buy your child everything they want, because that’s not realistic, or financially viable. I think that if children knew how much stress and pressure their parents were under to buy them things, they’d ask for less. Well, I hope they would. I’m not saying parents should tell their children they can’t have anything, I’m just saying they don’t have to have everything. If you buy one of your children a car for Christmas, then of course in a few years your other child is going to demand expect the same. Children ask for things based on what they normally get. If you spent £100 on presents one year, they wouldn’t expect £1000’s worth the next. So I think it’s important to set a reasonable limit on their presents.

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So yeah, there you go. You can now continue to support capitalism and commercialise the birth of a religious figurehead buy presents. Ho ho ho.