Childhood in the 1990s: An Essay in 5 Parts

Submitted into Contest #102 in response to: Frame your story as an adult recalling the events of their childhood.... view prompt

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American Creative Nonfiction Funny

There are several defining factors of my middle class childhood. I figured I should write them down now, while I am still moderately close to my own youth, so I will never forget them. I believe that I will list them in sections; it keeps things organized.

I. The Uppermost Level on the Food Pyramid

Popsicles, candy, cookies, caffeinated drinks, and any other victual that contained large amounts of food coloring were hailed as awe inspiring, rare, and a delight. They were celebrated passionately and viewed as either manna from heaven or ambrosia from Mount Olympus. Therefore, The Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, Grandma and Birthday Party Hosts were likewise adored as sugar laden saints by their populous.

II. Time Dilation

Time, as a factor of space and playdates, was cruelly overtaken and manipulated by parents. The phrase "5 more minutes" could easily be fifteen minutes, or merely one. Really, any period of time was referred to as "5 more minutes." This mutation of time was either embraced or abhorred by children according to the wishes and desires of the parental unit. If, perchance, mom wanted to exchange a casserole recipe with her friend from book club, '5 more minutes' was a golden chance to play for much longer than you expected. If mom had a headache, however...well then, our chances were not beheld as any precious metal, much less gold.

III. The 3 Magic Words of the Child Dictator Amongst Peers

Life as a child consisted mostly of evading chores, evading homework, evading bedtime, and playing pretend. This idea of "playing pretend" was never very precise and hardly ever consistent. One moment you could be running away from the hideous group of invisible fiends known as 'the bad guys' and then you must cross the Mississippi river by dog sled to escape from the Nazis and give the baby a bottle before bed! These erratic and eventful changes in the story line of 'playing pretend' were most often preceded by the vocal suggestion of "lets pretend that...component x" (Please feel free to insert your own personal preference to complete our make believe scenario.) If you were the commanding and revered captain of the your make believe crew, you knew these three words well. They were the magical call that directed your fantastic world. If your station as captain was secure, you could pull almost anything off by uttering your wishes after these three words of life. Not only could you create your own marvelous scenario, but you could veto any of your officers' requests without explanation. Because of this, the make believe Dictator was always a coveted role among friends and enemies.

IV. Regarding the Argument of Green Edibles

Childhood holds a great many fears. Some of them were irrational and shunned in the daylight- such as closet monsters, the dark and scary movies. Other fears were mutually declared terrifying by all true children. These dreadfully frightening things include, but are not limited to: time for bed, time for a bath, time to go and kidnappers. However, the largest fear and most horrible enemy did not haunt us beneath the covers. Instead, this hated foe came to us in the form of a leafy green (or boiled green) side dish on our dinner plates. Now, nobody enjoys and relishes their veggies, but adults had an anti-gag reflex mechanism installed when they reached their age of manhood. This could not be understood. Who would voluntarily put those disgusting things in their mouths? Whose idea was it to eat vegetables in the first place? In all seriousness, who picked up that dreaded plant, stuck in their mouth and then decided that it was good enough to keep eating!? The Judas, it would have been better if they had never been born. Not only did they twist society into believing vegetables were edible, but they convinced all grown-ups into thinking that they were good for us! "Mmm," our parents would cry loudly, "Aren't these peas just so good? Put a little butter and salt on them, honey. It will make them taste great." But we knew better. Peas could never be good! And who puts butter and salt on COLD PEAS? Of course they were cold. Who ate peas fast enough to have them remain warm? We were certainly never to heat them up in the microwave. Microwaving peas made them shrivel up. The nasty butter (yes, it was nasty! Anything that had touched them was eternally nasty) would stick to your plate. We would rather die than eat those...those...those green monsters. But we could not give up dessert, and the little green invaders made it down the hatch. How? I don't believe science will ever solve the culinary mystery. We will never truly know.

V. On the Subject of Child Labor Within the Kitchen

Do you remember those horrible moments of being forced by your parents to submit to slave labor? You know, when they made you bear that oh-so-heavy yoke of cleaning up after dinner? You would finish your food. You wished you could get up from the table, but if you moved you would draw attention to yourself! But how long could you prolong the inevitable? Sooner or later you would need to clear the table. We all knew what that led to...Dishes. With a capital 'D'. "Even the pots and pans?" Yes, even the pots and pans. And this meant that you had to tackle the creature of the deep abyss: The Sink Drain. True, ten minutes ago it was on your plate, but when it enters the drain (shudder) who knows what it turns into. Gurgle Gurgle...AHH! It was alive, and trying to communicate! Some common lines of defense against such torture were:

"This is disgusting! Ugh! Oh! Mo-om! I'm going to puke here!"

"How inhumane! You only make me do this because you know that it's gross! You just don't want to do it yourself." Or here we go...

"You treat me just like Cinderella!" But there was nary a plea that could tug the heart strings of our oppressors. It seems our mournful state was only intensified by our merciless slave drivers. We might as well have been orphans.

July 14, 2021 01:00

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1 comment

S.D. Kang
21:01 Jul 22, 2021

Hehe, it's like I was there for your childhood.


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