Listen, I’ve been dreaming for years about an adult-sized playground that I could escape to in the middle of my work day: one where the swings are surrounded by cushy padded cubes and my fat ass actually fits onto the slides. Then I realized if I played on a playground again, I’d literally be dead of self-inflicted blunt force trauma and/or exhaustion and heart failure in less than seven minutes. But during the younger, more innocent times in our lives, recess was the reason we raised our hands and didn’t punch the kid next to us in the face (until we got outside). Life was over if your recess privileges were revoked. This was also the first opportunity to start climbing the social ladder to glory. I mean, who were you? The kid picking his nose and wedgie simultaneously or the one totally dodging every tennis ball and crushing suicide? Think about it. I think I crossed the threshold from androgynous girl-boy to cool when I pegged a kid in the face in dodgeball and he cried. O’Doyle rules!
2. Taco Tuesdays, Pasta Wednesdays, Pizza Fridays
Good work up there in admin on lunch scheduling. REALLY creative there, guys. But hell, we loved that shit. As my mother would say, dogs (and young children) need a routine. How else could our peanut-sized brains comprehend what day of the week it was? We couldn’t. I literally would clean out one of those mysteriously square pizzas right now if I could, and I know now that it’s simply some white cardboard, shredded paper and red dye no. 40. Don’t even care. Hey, are you gonna drink your chocolate milk?
3. Birthday Privileges
Your birthday was equivalent to a national holiday, and sometimes even more important. Every Sammy and Sally wanted in. They’d give up their younger sibling’s lunch money to persuade you to ask for their help in distributing birthday goodies. You literally reigned supreme on this day. It must be like Beyonce’s life every day. The actual circulation of aforementioned goodies ensured that your net was cast even wider, garnering more fame with each classroom you visited. I don’t know about you guys, but we had this awesome thing where your mom or dad could come in and “take you out” for lunch. As in, you got to go sit at a table right outside the cafeteria with them and choose about 6 friends or so to join you. The selection process for these guests was strategic. Some kids would have even gone “Hunger Games” psycho for a shot at this.
4. Overall Praise For Functioning On A Basic Level
Today, apparently, you can’t get a good high five or a slap on the back for merely putting your bag into your
cubby desk. Back in the day though, if you sat in your assigned seat, raised your hand, went to the bathroom in the actual toilet, and avoided knocking anyone else’s teeth out, you got a gold star. Physical capabilities were way more highly touted than they are now. Being fast or being able to fling yourself around wildly during gym was commended just as equally as your “grades.” I think my third grade 50 meter dash record still stands on the gym wall of my elementary school. We need to bring these back–I mean, the values in this country have gone to shit. Sure, maybe this “special treatment” led us to believe we truly are all special and unique, but let me tell you NO ONE can alphabetize like I can, and it really ruffles my feathers that not one person here seems to care.
5. Obnoxious School Supplies
Not a single person who grew up in the ’80s or ’90s will forget the impact Trapper Keepers and Lisa Frank had on our lives. I remember going about as nuts for a new sparkly folder (that I never put a single paper in) as I did when Britney came out with “…Baby One More Time.” Acquiring the best school supplies was an art form for many. The persuasive guilt trips we concocted to bestow upon our parents every August are still unparalleled. The fact that my school had a small cart set up outside the cafeteria is even more evidence now that I look back. Oh sure, yes I’ll use my life savings of $4 to buy that enormous pencil with the feather on the end even though I know my teacher will take it away from me. Whichever sicko ran that thing should be arrested on child exploitation charges.
6. Arts And Crafts
What was better than watching that doofus in your class get in trouble for eating the glue? It happened every. Damn. Time. What a glorious hour when you weren’t pressured by Miss Lippy to read out loud and display your stammer for everyone in the class to enjoy. On top of the lack of brain power it took, you automatically had every present you ever needed to give until you were like, 15. Mom fucking LOVED your macaroni necklaces and you were just the best kid ever! Of course Dad needed a new fluffy sheep for his desk at work! Go you!
Come middle school, you were just doomed when it came to clothing. If you weren’t wearing Abercrombie & Fitch–or the poor cousin American Eagle–GTFO. But elementary? No sweat, bud! The freedom and lenience of how you showed up to school could only be found in a “spiritual rejuvenation camp” in New Mexico or the Netherlands or somewhere. I definitely wore a red turtleneck, pink stirrup leggings, and white cowboy boots (with fringe, duh) at one point. THANKS, MOM. I also definitely witnessed a boy wearing a tank top, sweatpants with cuffed ankles and soccer cleats to school. Cleats. Talk about a recess hero. The point is, freedom abounded and no one cared what you looked like in the least. Man, we used to have it made.