Growing Up in the 80s: The Simple Life

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Growing up in the eighties was a blast. My family lived in 2 large caravans while we watched our house being built a couple of hundred meters away, across a paddock. We had a mandarin tree between the 2 caravans, which we would pick fruit from and climb. As the slab was poured for our house we had an instant roller skating rink. We had paddocks to ride our second hand bikes in and cabbage patch dolls that mum sewed extra outfits for so we could dress them up every which way.

When we moved into our house, we would eat dinner at the table- all four of us. We’d talk about our day, what had happened at the one teacher school we attended where everyone literally knew everyone. Small, cosy and yes: somewhat sheltered. After dinner we helped with the dishes and then watched TV together. It seems to me, looking back, that there was a lot more family friendly viewing in those days. Shows that a family unit could truly enjoy.

My sibling and I would visit my grandmother who lived on the same land as us- we’d sit in the sun eating mulberries we’d pick off her trees and just be free from cares or concerns. We’d visit and play with our cousins who lived next door. We raised chickens, watched our cat give birth, got our hands dirty in the mud, jumped in huge puddles and had a tree house that afforded us privacy- it was a place I used to take my diary to and write in it.

The nightly news certainly had unpleasant things to report on, but I do not remember acts of terrorism, civil war, and genocide or at a more local level- drive-by shootings and coward punches, killing people with one blow or one bullet.

We lived in a world unfettered by ‘too’ much technology. We read lots of books, built forts, played outside till dusk and were in bed with the lights out at our set, individual bedtimes. In summer we would go to the local community pool with our friends (the same friends we went to school and church with) and eat Paddlepops that cost 30 cents.

I’ve had students tell me they feel sorry for me growing up in such a ‘backwards’ era, that I missed out on so much. I don’t feel that way at all. I remember when having $5 made you feel rich, you were sleepy at night because you’d worn yourself out playing outside with friends and you had a belly full of fruit you’d picked from trees on your property. It WAS a simple life, but that shouldn’t have negative connotations. It was a great time to be a kid.

Are you an 80s kid? Do you look back on your childhood as a simpler time?

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  • Mazi Grey

    I feel sorry for kids today. A new law in Victoria makes it illegal to leave kids under twelve unattended. I used to ride my bike to school when I was 10 then ride to meet my cousins at a bmx track. Now this would be illegal in Vic.