It’s nearing the end of the semester, which means finals are upon us. Whenever it gets to this point of the year, and I’m THIS close to a long break, I can’t help but think back to my younger days when I didn’t know what finals were, and my biggest problem was when I struggled to punch a hole in my juice box. It’s so weird to think about how some of my favorite things to do fizzled out as I got older thanks to the endless tasks that seem to pile higher as I get closer to graduating. These are the ten things I wish I could go back to, and what I enjoyed as a pipsqueak.
1. DQ after games and meets
It wasn’t just orange slices and juice boxes all the time. Back then, it was so common for my team to head to the local DQ and sit on the brick wall, getting the cars to honk at us as they drove by. I would get the same thing every time, a small cookie dough blizzard that I could only get halfway through before it turned into soup. It didn’t matter what season it was; softball, basketball, or gymnastics, DQ was always the go to spot after big tourneys or meets. I miss these days because going to DQ meant that I actually had the time to do this, and not immediately go home and start my homework like I had to as I got older. I also was able to participate in both gymnastics and basketball at the same time because I wasn’t in gymnastics competitively yet. Some of my best memories were made with my different teams over the years, and every time I drive by that brick wall, I picture my team sitting up there still.
2. Saturday game day
I have no idea how or when this tradition got started, but every Saturday morning after I watched Spongebob with my cup of cereal and sippy cup of orange juice, my dad, Christopher, and I would play a board game before we got ready for the day. While a majority of the time it ended in a cat fight between me and Christopher because I wanted to win, and Dad put us on the steps for a five minute time-out, it was still a good time. We had so many games to choose from that my dad had to build shelves to house all those game boxes. Some of the most frequently played games were Uno, Life, Jenga, Chutes and Ladders, Pretty Pretty Princess (yes the guys did put on the clip on earrings and necklaces), Monopoly, American Girl, Sequence, and Slamwich (this one ended in tears from my hand getting slapped “too hard”). I always wanted to play Twister, but no one was ever eager to lose to the champ. We never played Operation because the loud buzzer freaked us out. I can’t tell you the last time any of those games were touched, as we never are together on Saturdays anymore, but it’s definitely something I wouldn’t mind having back.
This honestly was my life. I spent so many hours on the computer taking care of my 40 pets. Yes, 40. Back then, I remembered every single pet’s name, all of my brother’s pet’s names, and was so addicted to getting more coins, spinning the Wheel of the Day, trying to make it to level 14 in Bananza -which I finally did and took a picture of it as proof, and making sure my pets didn’t die. I used to try to fit all of my pets in my bed with me at night which did not work very well in my tiny twin bed. While I can still remember my username: 6570L (hit me up in the arcade), I can’t remember any of those pet names, or how to even work the website anymore. I still remember the day my brother and I gave up Webkinz for good because we thought we were getting too old for it, and didn’t have the time. Back then it was still set up where they would die if you didn’t log on everyday to take care of them. My brother and I took turns getting on the computer and putting all of our pets in bed like the Titanic, setting them up for their slow death. It was a very emotional time I’m not going to lie. If there was an app for this, I’m pretty sure all of us 2000s kids would pick it back up again! I’d take a virtual dog to take care of over no dog.
4. The swing set
When I wasn’t playing Webkinz, I was out on the swing set until I was forced to come inside. That swing set was used so much that I frayed the rope on the saucer swing, ripped out all the grass under the swing from the many times I tried to get myself to slow down, and broke off handles of the trapeze swing. I spent hours swinging; trying to see how high I could get, making up games, doing back flips off of it, trying to reach the trees with my feet, and swinging to my favorite Jonas Brothers songs. Swinging was my relaxation technique back then, as I would spend hours thinking about things-mostly gymnastics and my crush of the week. All my friends in my neighborhood had a swing set, and they were essentially the hangout spots. Sometimes I wish I could just go outside and have a swing session like I used to, I definitely took it for granted, and it’s great for the arms!
Back in my elementary school and middle school days, I would despise every single worksheet my teacher handed out. I absolutely hated those word problems about apples and oranges. I remember having a “homework folder” because all I would get was worksheets to complete. In reality, these worksheets were usually one-sided, with a maximum of six questions that really didn’t require thinking at all. Fast forward to now. I don’t need to have a homework folder anymore because there is no way to put the task of writing a research paper, creating a consulting project, conducting psych research, or reading several chapters into a folder. My homework now takes me on average several hours on a good week. Back then, my homework took me an hour tops, and that’s including needing my dad’s help with writing a fraction for how many green marbles were in the bag. I would take a worksheet any day over the ten page research paper I just finished up.
When asked what my favorite subject was in school, I would say recess. When asked again to answer with a real class, I would say gym class. I have always been active, and recess was that time I could release all that pent up energy from sitting inside all day. First through fifth grade, I did the same thing at recess every single day. There were two horizontal bars out on the playground, and that is where I would go. I loved to practice my gymnastics tricks, as well as treat it as extra practice time. Luckily, the bars were right next to the “1,2,3 kick-up” spot on the hill (it’s a handstand contest). Sometimes my teachers would even come over and watch me do gymnastics. When it got cold and I could no longer grip the bars without getting frostbite, I would go sledding on the giant hill behind our school. Not many schools had this privilege, but I was so glad that I did. I guess I could go play at the playground down the street here at Gustavus in my free time, but it just isn’t the same, as it is not preceded by chicken giggles.
My brother and I used to be such a scooter fanatics that we each had two Razor scooters (twice the amount of hitting myself in the ankle with it too). Part of the reason I had two was because I was starting to wear the wheels flat on one of them. My brother and I used to create chalk roads on our driveway for us to drive our scooters around on, and come up with new jumps or tricks to do on them. A majority of the time, we were flying down the big hill in our neighborhood. When I say big hill, I mean to the point where I would be scared to ride my scooter down it now. I had no fear of what could happen (thanks to gymnastics). I loved to see how fast I could go, and once I got to the bottom, I would make the hike back up to the top again and do this for hours. My scooter traveled with me to my brother’s baseball games to help me pass the time, as well as on many trips to Kentucky to scooter around Centre College’s campus. Again, I could easily pick it back up again now, but unfortunately, 20 year olds are supposed to choose car as their form of transportation.
8. Swimming and snow
There’s a point in every girl’s life where they transition from a water bug, or down to be out in the snow for hours, to laying out in the sun in order to avoid getting wet, and being an old lady about being out in the cold. Sadly, I am now one of those girls that gets all ready to go to the pool, just to sit two feet away from the water, or maybe dip my toe in. When it comes to snow nowadays, I’d just rather not deal with it! I don’t know why this love died off, but I loved swimming and being in the snow when I was young. My thought process now is that I don’t want to look like a raccoon from my mascara when I jump in the pool, or I’d rather not get my hair wet. I closed the waterpark down sometimes just because I didn’t want to get out of the pool. In the winter, my brother and I would spend all day sledding with the neighborhood squad, rolling snow to see how big of a snowball we could make (usually ended up ripping the grass out as well), and making luxurious snow forts (which were surprisingly warm). A little bit of it has come back now that I’ve gotten to Gustavus, as traying is very hard to pass up.
When I think back to what I looked like when I was in elementary school, I can’t help but cringe because it was not good. Between losing all my teeth except for my front tooth, growing out my bangs, and getting glasses, I was thankful for a glow up a few years later. What I miss about this though, is simply the fact that I didn’t care what I looked like. Obviously I cared a little, but I didn’t care what others thought about my outfit, hair, or what I did, like I do now. I would get inside from recess, all sweaty, and just keep going about my day. I didn’t spend a good chunk of my time in the morning putting on makeup or choosing an outfit (my mom chose for me for a while, I had no fashion sense). I ate whatever I wanted without thinking about how it could affect how my body looked. Kraft mac and cheese was my meal of choice. Back then when none of that mattered, it was a lot easier to feel great about myself, because I felt no need to change myself or compare myself to others. As a psych major, I’ve often wondered what age those evil thoughts of “caring” (seems ironic to say, right?) started to occur, and why. To sum it up, I miss the days where I could roll out of bed with no makeup, put on sweats, and give no thought to it at all!
10. My “problems”
Back in the day, my problems seemed absolutely ginormous. Some examples of what I considered to be a huge problem were the printer is out of ink and I can’t print my assignment, there is not french vanilla flavored yogurt in the fridge, I have to do five tumbling series on beam tonight at practice, my pre algebra math assignment is impossible, my American Idol contestant got voted off, I can’t find the other matching sock, getting dragged to Christopher’s all day basketball tourney, my favorite leotard isn’t clean, the boy I like has a crush on someone else, it’s raining so I can’t go outside, etc.. you get it, they weren’t actual problems! Now, I wish that I had those problems. My pre FND life was such as a breeze (with the exception of learning my kip on bars). I took too many things for granted back then, just because I didn’t know that life can actually get hard sometimes, and there are bigger problems than not having matching socks. I was so naive back then about all the bad in the world, and all the adversity that could happen. I’ve overcome so many things; socially, health wise, school wise, you name it. Looking back, I’m glad that my problems weren’t real problems back then, because I was healthy, and a goofy little kid as all kids should be.
Even though I had a few bumps in the road, my childhood was stellar, and that’s why I would give anything to go back and live a day in the life of Lauren back then. There are some things I am happy that I have grown out of, but a majority of it I definitely would gladly take back. I’d like to think that each of our experiences is what helps to prepare us for what is to come, and that is what gets me through the long papers, finals, and studying. Playing board games taught me how to follow the rules and sportsmanship, worksheets eased me into these giant papers, recess set me up to remember to stay active, and DQ taught me to celebrate my victories. While, I can’t really make a connection to how Webkinz has helped me become a top notch student, a lot of those things I did as a kid were important just to give me good memories to look back on when things get tough, and what it is like to truly be happy. My goal is to channel that child-like happiness during the times where school stress is at an all time high, like now!
Have a fantastic week, my friends! Go get a DQ after finals.