What was it like to be an adult in the late 90s? Also, what was it like to raise a child in the late 90s? That had to be nice, right? Were things *easier?* The current decade allows for many conveniences, but do they outweigh the bad? I can’t decide. Toddler moms of decades past say things like, “oh, it wasn’t so different.” Honestly, I have a hard time believing that, the information overload kills me and there are a lot of rules. Did you know you’re not supposed to give kids Orajel anymore? Haha, maybe you knew.. I didn’t. Well, until a *concerned* mom told someone else in a Facebook group.
I am not ONLY talking about being a mother in the 90s as a collective society, either. I’m also referring to me, specifically. Who would my husband, Dan, and I be without social media throughout extremely formative years, without smart phones, Google, and social media. Growing up sitting in inflatable chairs purchased from Limited Too certainly had a butterfly effect on my entire human existence. Who would I be without that experience? What would my job be? Would I have had a child at 25 because Instagram wasn’t around to convince me I should be traveling? What kind of mom would I be without Pinterest. How the hell would I know the latest superfoods? How would I be marketed to if there wasn’t an algorithm. Would I even know the term, algorithm?
Although the alternate reality where I am an adult in 1998 will never be known, let me paint an evening for you, because that’s what I like to do in my spare time. I think of fiction scenarios based on real life events, and if there’s an argument, I always win.
Dan and I are 30, Dylan is 1 but the year is 1998. To preface this, I was actually 8 in 1998 and my only memories include watching Toy Story, going to basketball practice, and slicking back my ponytail tight. I loved Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen and so badly wanted braces. I have no clue if all my references are right, but if you feel like fact checking- please, go right ahead, Karen.
Dan sits down on the couch grabbing the remote control. He points it towards our entertainment system and clicks ‘power on,’ a laugh track fills the room, as Ray Ramono’s voice is heard throughout the main level and into the kitchen. “Can you turn that down?” I yell to Dan sitting on the couch. I prepare dinner while Dylan is on the kitchen floor next to me. She’s drinking kool-aid out of a bottle, and playing with an old Beanie Baby.
I have my hands in a bowl of ground beef trying to mix in random ingredients while simultaneously reading the notecard my mom hand wrote her meatloaf recipe on, in between step 1 and step 2, I ask Dan, “hey, this weekend, we should send Dylan to your parents so we can start to paint that main wall three shades darker. I’d love a feature wall in here and think it will give the room a Tuscan feel.” He continues to nod along, but isn’t actually listening.
Once dinner is prepared we sit down at the table, the news is now on providing a low buzz of background noise. “Mark McGwire hits his 70th home run of the season,” reports the man on NBC who is wearing a ridiculously large suit. The home run race of the MLB season keeps us excited while the Clinton scandal keeps us on our toes. We continue to eat dinner, discussing Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Bill, and Monica. Halfway into dinner, the phone rings, I get up to answer, “Hello?” “Good evening Ma’am, this is Blockbuster video, your rental, ‘Saving Private Ryan’ is two days overdue, Thank you.” I hang up the phone, and turn to the dinner table with a furrowed brow and a sharp tongue.
“Dan, I TOLD you “Saving Private Ryan” is a new release, so its a two day rental. Where is it?” Dan looks up from his meal, confused and calm.”I don’t know, probably in the VCR?” “Can you drop it off at Blockbuster after dinner?” I angrily ask.
As I am clearing out plates from the table, Dan is in the family room. I see him walk up to the VCR, bend over so he’s eye level with the shelf it sits on, flip the VCR flap up revealing the film in the player. He closes it, and starts shuffling the other videos sitting nearby. I lift Dylan out of her highchair and place her on the floor, she runs to her Fisher Price red barn and grabs a plastic cow, she bangs it on the side of the coffee table as Dan steps around her looking for the VHS. He can’t find it. “Is it downstairs?” I ask. He bends down to look under the coffee table and says “No… I didn’t bring it downstairs.” Adding the late fees in my head, I remind Dan sarcastically, “you could easily buy an iMac with the late fees you’ve paid Blockbuster!” He scoffed while trying to outwit me, “I’ll never need an Apple product…”
As the evening progresses we drop the subject, I put Dylan to bed, and retire to my bedroom. I turn on my Panasonic and ‘Saving Private Ryan’ starts playing. I close my eyes and sigh, remembering two evenings before when I fell asleep before barely getting into the movie. I removed it from the VCR downstairs after Dan had watched it. I get out of bed, and grab the video, embarrassed, and continue down the stairs to the kitchen looking for Dan to apologize. Once I arrive on the main level, he isn’t there. He must be in the basement. Although this is a lesson in humility, it doesn’t have to be. I walk over to the family room, and bend down. I open the plastic roof of Dylan’s Fisher Price red barn, and place the VHS to “find” in the morning while we play. As I return upstairs, lay back down in my bed, I turn on my tv and laugh at my sneaky solution.
The next morning, I walk downstairs. Dan and Dylan are playing in the family room. Dylan is picking up her toy animals and placing them in front of the toy barn, Dan peaks in the red barn and pulls out Saving Private Ryan with an annoyed look on his face. Internally, I realize I am wrong, but when harmless plans are executed, I am not one to ruin them with small details. He turns to me and says, “Kara, I found the movie.. apparently Dylan hid it.” I respond casually, never admitting my mistake, “thanks, will you return it today?” He answers, “Yea- I’ll leave in a bit.” After a small pause he adds, “Hey! Imagine if you could always pull movies out of a magic Redbox..”