Life with Liz: Strolling down Nostalgia Lane
The other night we were having one of our now legendary kitchen dance parties, and I realized that my kids knew all the words to every song that came on my ’80s rock play list.
Granted, our Alexa has honed in on every family member’s favorite type of music, so she usually plays the same 25 songs when I ask her to play something I’d like, but it got me thinking about how much of an impact spending time with only me and the Wonderful Husband for almost a year is going to have on my kids for the rest of their lives.
For starters, the ’80s have had a real revival in this house. My kids were well indoctrinated thanks to Sirius radio’s ’80s on 8, but they’ve been exposed to a lot more of “my” music, as one particular song will take me back to a junior high dance, and I’ll end up going down a rabbit hole of a play list that I surely committed to a cassette tape 30 years ago. Certain songs went together then, and I am now incapable of listening to them separately now.
Since John Prine is one of the WH’s favorite artists, he was already heavily in the music rotation. When Prine passed away, I think we listened to nothing else for weeks. From there, other folk artists started showing up in our “favorites” and now that’s a genre of music that my kids at least pretend to enjoy. I know it’s made an impression when I hear one of them picking out melodies on his guitar, or the other one riffing on his saxophone, or E picks out a few notes of a familiar tune on the piano. Sometimes I find searches for certain sheet music in my Google history.
From the music, it’s a logical leap to the movies we’ve made the kids watch. Blasting the theme from “Top Gun” got me quizzical looks from the kids, so we obviously had to watch the movie.
It’s funny, you remember all the good stuff like the cool fighter pilots and jets, and the volleyball match, and you tend to forget the “unmentionable” scenes until they pop up and you have to frantically dig for the remote because it’s completely not integral to the story and your two teenage boys definitely don’t need to see that action. Also, I was unprepared for how mad everyone got at me for not telling them that Goose died.
I guess when the kids are used to watching their heroes die in CGI glory, and they’re obviously fictional characters, like Tony Stark, or apparently never dead, like Loki, it’s a little unexpected to lose a major character in the middle of a movie.
I’ve also noticed that when I explain what a movie is about, I tend to get some funny looks. I remembered “Weekend at Bernie’s” as a classic film. Based on my synopsis, the kids did not have high expectations. They were not disappointed. I’m just going to come out and say it: That movie was a lot dumber than I remember. My kids need to stop reimagining every movie if cellphones had been invented then. You don’t realize how much influence phones have until your kid points out that if just one character had had a cellphone, the entire plot would have unraveled. Seinfeld, even though it was more of a ’90s phenomenon, has been completely destroyed by my kids saying, “too bad they didn’t have a cellphone.”
It’s not limited to entertainment. My kids have been permanently indoctrinated into “my way” of doing their homework. It’s taken almost a year, but they no longer even come to ask me for help with math without a pile of scrap paper. They still don’t like to write everything down, but they at least know better than to ask for help if they have nothing to show they’ve tried.
I may also have three able ghost writers at my disposal in the future, because any time they ask me to proofread something, my “helpful” suggestions tend to mimic my own writing style.
All my elementary school teachers will be happy to know that their methods, which may have been lost to the art of the common core, are now back in action. I really don’t object to the common core methods, as they’ve been very helpful to me as I’m relearning a lot of skills, but when it comes to setting up homework papers, or paragraph and essay layout, there is only one good old-fashioned way to do it in my book.
The only thing that I think I’m missing is a Trapper Keeper. Although the school currently bans them (they take up too much space and what do you know, kid are pack rats that don’t need encouragement), since they’re in Mom-school, I think it’s time we go retro.
I have really enjoyed all the strolls down Nostalgia Lane that I’ve taken over the last year. For me, fond memories of the past are both a welcome respite from the current never-ending stream of days and a reminder about how fleeting time is. This time, although it seems interminable now, will not last.
Before we know it, the kids will be back in school, listening to whatever music they want, seeing the latest movies on the big screen, and being taught by real teachers who are not relying on a musty old bag of tricks. In times of stress, we tend to retreat to our comfort zones. Now my comfort zone includes not only my old memories, but the new ones that I’ve made with my kids.
For instance, I’ll never be able to listen to my high school anthem “Just like Heaven” by the Cure, without also hearing A announce, in no uncertain terms that “the Cure sucks, Mom.” And every time A, and E and G, hear that song in the future (and they will, because it is a classic!) they can remember the totally awesome time that they had hanging out with their parents during a pandemic.
Also, I have been advised that no one says “totally awesome” anymore. I beg to differ. Another few months being holed up with me and everyone is going to be fluent in “Valley Girl.”
Liz Pinkey is a contributing writer to the Times News. Her column appears weekly in our Saturday feature section.